Queens DA’s office unveils new dedicated Hate Crimes Bureau

Photo by Mark Hallum

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced a dedicated Hate Crimes Bureau in her newly organized Felony Trial Division, saying the bureau would be one of the first in the nation committed exclusively to preventing, investigating, and prosecuting hate crimes.

The bureau engages in extensive community outreach to foster positive ties between impacted communities and law enforcement. Its goals are to combat racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and other hate-inspired bias crimes through education.

The bureau also crafts innovative sentencing programs to address and reform so they do not offend again. This specialized unit works closely with the city’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and with the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force to achieve these objectives.

“We are the ‘World’s Borough’ with the most diverse population of any county in the nation,” Katz said. “Hate-mongers and those who hurt others based on their own prejudices have no place in Queens. This bureau takes a multifaceted approach to stopping hate crimes by working collaboratively with others to combat bias, as well as developing meaningful programs to bring about positive change.”

Katz added that people from all over the world come to Queens to work and live and make a new life for themselves and their families. Because of the borough’s diversity, some who have hate in their heart will seek to wreak havoc and attempt to weaken and divide Queens residents with cowardly bias crimes.

“The bureau will, of course, vigorously prosecute anyone who hurts others based on their own prejudices and hate,” Katz said.

The individual hate crime victim often suffers significant psychological harm on top of the economic or physical injury caused by the underlying criminal act. Additionally, members of the victim’s group, and other minority groups, can suffer secondary injury by becoming fearful and isolating from others, Katz explained. By aggressively addressing hate crimes, the DA’s office is making clear that hate crimes will not be tolerated and the bureau will aggressively tackle these issues.

Katz selected Assistant District Attorney Michael E, Brovner as its bureau chief. The 23-year veteran of the Queens DA’s office previously served as Deputy Bureau Chief in the former Gang Violence and Hate Crimes Bureau and for more than 20 years he has prosecuted hate crimes.

Brovner has lectured throughout New York State on hate crimes prosecution, trained other prosecutors and members of law enforcement.