A new hate crimes task force is one of the many steps being taken in Brooklyn to help reduce the number of bias crimes in the borough.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced the creation of the task force under the banner Project Reach Out this morning. It will be based out of his office and will also provide a channel for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to call in acts of violence that they do not feel comfortable talking about with police or any other authority.
LGBT counselors will be available through the hotline, as well.
Hynes says despite the fact that investigators spend the majority of their time chasing down suspects accused of anti-Semitic acts, crimes against the LGBT community are on the rise and he wants to stop the problem before it worsens.
"They're afraid to reveal their sexuality," said the district attorney. "They feel they could be further victimized by their employer. Often if you've got investigators who are not sensitive to the problems of this community, it's going to be communicated. So it's both and that's why believe it's so very important that people access this phone number immediately."
One man attending the announcement was Ezekiel Sandy, whose son, Michael Sandy, died in October 2006 while running across the Belt Parkway after being lured to Plum Beach Park by attackers with the promise of a sexual encounter.
Ezekiel Sandy says he did not know his son was gay and is hoping other families of gays and lesbians will work together with the non-LGBT community to stop the anti-gay violence.
"The program could work if we all work together," he said. "It will work and this is by education and this is by teaching and this is by putting all our efforts into it."
The hotline for Project Reach Out is 1-718-250-2759.