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Hate Crimes Task Force proposed by King County councilman and prosecutor

The King County Council will soon consider setting up a Hate Crimes Task Force. It would include a new four-person unit in the King County Sheriff’s Office dedicated to investigating hate crimes and two deputy prosecutors working full time on hate and bias crimes.King County Councilman Reagan Dunn and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg are supporting the proposal. Dunn, a former federal prosecutor, says similar to crimes of domestic violence and sexual assault, hate crimes are difficult and time consuming to investigate in order to take a case to trial.


“And so it’s really good to have a specialized unit who are experts in the area, know the right questions to ask and are able to take on this important work,” Dunn said.


Hate crimes, particularly against Asian Americans, have skyrocketed across the country. So far this year, King County has brought charges in 11 hate-crime cases, including crimes committed against Asian Americans.


Hate crimes have nearly doubled in the past two years in King County. In 2018, the county filed charges in 30 hate crimes. In 2020, 59 cases were filed.


Dunn says he was inspired to propose a task force after being at an event recently where an Asian-American woman spoke about being the victim of a hate crime and having a hard time getting the case taken seriously by the county.


“And I thought, 'You know what? We better do something about that.' This is not the kind of story or narrative that should be told in King County, one of the more diverse counties,” Dunn said.


His proposal is scheduled to go before the King County Council Law and Justice Committee on May 4.


Dunn acknowledges the Hate Crime Task Force might be a tough sell with some councilmembers who are reluctant to add to the sheriff’s budget at a time when there is a move to divert funds away from policing and into social services. 


Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.