Attorney General Kwame Raoul's office was awarded a $394,772 Department of Justice (DoJ) grant for a 48-month project to provide specialized hate-crime training to law enforcement officers and prosecuting attorneys in Illinois.
The grantawarded through the DoJ's Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Programwill support Raoul's efforts to increase the reporting of hate crimes and improve the criminal justice system's response to hate-crime victims.
Hate crimes are underreported both nationally and in Illinois. According to the most recent FBI statistics, in 2019, only 23 out of 728 participating law enforcement agencies in Illinois reported any hate crime incidents to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, which is one of the lowest rates in the nation. In Illinois, 24 cities with populations larger than 50,000 reported no hate-crime incidents at all in 2019.
According to a press release, the grant will allow Raoul's office to meet the need for the evidence-based, trauma-informed and victim-centered training programs for hate-crime first responders such as law enforcement officers, investigators and prosecutors handling hate-crime cases. Training topics will include the specifics of the state and federal hate-crimes statutes, the effects of trauma on victims, the importance of community relationships and identifying a hate crime.
Raoul's office will develop the training program over the next year, with law enforcement expected to start training at the end of 2023 and prosecutors being trained in 2024. Trainings will be available online or in a video format, and a more intensive curriculum will be provided at in-person training for field training officers and investigators.