Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced actions on Monday to address anti-Asian hate and bias crimes that have increased since 2019.
The initiatives are the product of a workgroup the Republican governor formed in April. They include enhanced safety and enforcement measures, increased access to community resources and additional tools for educators and students.
“Our Asian-American community is facing challenges worse than they have seen in decades," Hogan said at a news conference. "The actions that we’re announcing here today are the beginning. We will use every tool at our disposal to help provide additional protection to those who are impacted by these crimes.”
Hogan made the announcement with first lady Yumi Hogan, who was born in South Korea, and former Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert Hur, who is Asian American and led the statewide workgroup. Jaymi Sterling, Hogan's daughter who served on the workgroup, also attended the announcement.
As part of the public safety and enforcement component, the state will update hate and bias training for law enforcement agencies to include reporting of hate and bias incidents and crimes. Hogan also said a Maryland State Police commander will be named to act as liaison for hate crimes and racially biased incidents.
The governor said state and local law enforcement agencies will be directed to prioritize diversity in recruiting, and offer incentives for officers who are proficient in multiple languages.
To increase local resources, Hogan said the state will increase funding aimed at battling against hate crimes from $3 million to $5 million. He said the Governor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs will conduct outreach efforts regarding the availability of funding.
The governor also is focusing on adding ways of reporting hate and bias incidents, including making 211 Maryland a resource for reporting incidents and providing information about services and resources in Asian languages. The state will develop alternative reporting channels, including community organizations, nonprofits and faith centers, Hogan said.
The Maryland Center for School Safety has been directed to develop resources for educators, parents and students on how to identify and report hate and bias incidents.
Hogan said nearly one-third of all Asian Americans say that they have experienced some type of discrimination since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
Since the coronavirus was first reported in China, people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have been treated as scapegoats solely based on their race.
Nationwide data from law enforcement and surveys in Asian communities have shown a significant increase in hate crimes and hate-based incidents since 2019, Hur said, adding that data so far for 2021 is still being compiled.
“We look to be on a trajectory for a slight decrease for this year," Hur said. "It depends on how the data for the rest of the year pan out, but the data from 2019 to 2020 show a significant increase within the state of Maryland.”