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Governor's Hate Crimes Task Force Will Look At Reporting, School Curricula

Public Safety Secretary Dan Bennett and Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston CEO Josh Kraft were appointed Monday by Gov. Charlie Baker to lead the revived Governor's Task Force on Hate Crimes to advise the administration on ways to better prevent such acts and support victims.

Baker swore in the 17-member task force in a ceremony in his office where he said his goal is to work with the group "to make Massachusetts as safe as we possibly can."

The task force was first created in 1991 by Gov. William Weld and from 1994 to 1996 help lead the legislative effort to amend the Hate Crimes Penalties Act to increase penalties for those who commit hate crimes. The task force was formalized by Gov. Paul Cellucci in 1997, but "sort of faded away," according Baker, around the "turn of the century."

The executive order signed by Baker states that 424 hate crimes were committed in Massachusetts in 2015, including 133 incidents of intimidation, 110 incidents of property damage or vandalism, and 144 incidents of assault or aggravated assault.

The task force, which will meet at least quarterly and produce an annual report, has a mission that includes promoting coordination among law enforcement agencies to improve investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, facilitating the safe reporting of hate crimes, and developing best practices for school districts to incorporate hate crime education into the local curriculum.

The other members of the task force include Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni; Merrimack Valley Project President Ana Javier; UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert Johnson; Worcester Polytechnic Institute chief diversity officer Michelle Jones-Johnson; Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper; Jewish Federation of the Berkshires Executive Director Dara Kaufman; Boston police officer Israul Marrero; Office of the Attorney General civil rights division chief Genevieve Nadeau; Brigham and Women's Hospital Director of Ambulatory Obstetrics Dr. Nawal Nour; Boston University Public Safety Director Kelly Nee; LGBTQ Bar Association Co-Chair Nan Sauer; State Police trooper Emily Todisco; Anti-Defamation League New England office director Robert Trestan; Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center Executive Director Yusufi Vali; and Amherst College student Deborah Williams.

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