- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 27, 2021

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday that a newly appointed coordinator will manage the Justice Department‘s efforts to combat the surge in hate crimes across the country.

The coordinator, who will be named by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, will seek to improve online reporting of hate crimes, dole out grant money to support programs targeting bias incidents, and ease communication between federal and local departments.

“The coordinator will serve as the central hub for Department attorneys, law enforcement partners, community organizations, and other stakeholders,” Mr. Garland wrote in a memo to department employees.

Mr. Garland will also give Jim Felte, chief of the department’s Civil Rights Division’s criminal section, the task of expediting reviews of purported hate crimes.

The move will enable the Justice Department to “effectively assess whether acts of hate violate federal criminal laws,” Mr. Garland wrote.

As for the new official, the responsibilities will include notifying the deputy associate attorney general when local police departments need access to the department’s anti-hate resources.

Another shift will be to revitalize the department’s Community Relations Service, known as the “peacemaker” program. The unit, which the Trump administration tried to eliminate, mediates racial, ethnic and gender disputes.

“All of these steps share common objectives: deterring hate crimes and bias-related incidents, addressing them when they occur, supporting those victimized by them, and reducing the pernicious effects these incidents have on our society,” Mr. Garland wrote.

The announcement comes at the conclusion of the department’s 30-day review of its hate crime strategy, which began in late March.

Mr. Garland ordered the review, saying it was “urgent” to improve the federal government’s ability to track hate crimes. President Biden last week signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which requires the Justice Department to track hate crimes better and respond to them faster.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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