Healey: New MSP unit will target hate, $460K going to 10 school districts to reduce bias incidents

BOSTON — Gov. Maura Healey on Monday announced the formation of a new state police unit that will be tasked with targeting and deterring hate-based crimes across Massachusetts.

The Hate Crimes Awareness and Response Team is comprised of a handful of sworn troopers who will work with other law enforcement agencies and community partners in an effort to bolster strategies for addressing hate-based incidents related to race, ethnicity, religion, and other biases, according to Healey.

Healey explained that the HART team will enhance statewide data collection and information-sharing to identify statewide, national, and global patterns and trends, develop advanced training in coordination with the Municipal Police Training Committee to equip law enforcement with best practices for hate crime response, and streamline coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

“With hate crimes on the rise across the country and here in Massachusetts, it is essential that we bring people together to advance proactive solutions and support our communities. We are proud to launch the Hate Crimes Awareness and Response Team, which will play an essential role in addressing and preventing hate crimes, supporting survivors, and strengthening our communities,” Healey said during a news conference at the State House.

Ten school districts are also receiving Hate Crime Prevention grants totaling $461,920 that are designed to support or expand programs that help educators, staff, administrators, and students reduce incidents of bias in schools.

The grants are as follows:

  • Burlington -- $50,000
  • Medway -- $23,250
  • Gateway -- $50,000
  • Granby -- $48,670
  • Lenox -- $40,000
  • Gloucester -- $50,000
  • Framingham -- $50,000
  • North Reading -- $50,000
  • Bedford -- $50,000
  • Newton -- $50,000

Massachusetts recorded 440 reports of hate crime incidents statewide last year, up from 406 in 2021 and the highest reported since 2002, according to recent data shared by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

“Our administration remains deeply committed to ensuring that communities and organizations have the tools and resources needed to create safe, inclusive, and protected environments,” Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll added. “This new statewide initiative is another step toward strengthening Massachusetts’ ability to uphold our values and celebrate our diversity. We will continue to confront intolerance with the determination that this moment demands.”

To date, the Healey-Driscoll Administration has awarded over $7 million in state and federal grants to help Massachusetts nonprofits, including faith-based organizations, improve physical security and protect against attacks.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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