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Westchester DA Discusses Hate Crimes, Police Reform on Political Leadership Series

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Westchester County’s new District Attorney Mimi Rocah was the featured guest of the Business Council of Westchester’s Political Leadership Series program where she spoke about her office’s commitment to prosecuting hate crimes and promoting police reform to address systemic injustices in the legal system.

“There are two areas that are really top-of-mind right now nationally…One is hate crimes and bias incidents and the other is police reform,” said Rocah, a Scarsdale resident and Democrat who was elected to the post in November. “I never look at law enforcement and say, ‘You know, you have to change. You have to do this.’ It’s all of us.”

During the webinar held on Wednesday, Rocah described several anti-bias initiatives that she introduced, including #SpeakUpWestchester, a social media campaign to encourage victims of hate crimes or bias incidents to report them.

In March, Rocah’s office launched 914-995-TIPS, a new hotline for the public to report hate crimes, bias incidents, victimization of immigrants, elder abuse, wage theft and other labor-related violations, law enforcement misconduct, public corruption and other potential criminal matters.

“It directs people by subject matter and language to a different voicemail box taking the message, and there are trained prosecutors and investigators who actually get the messages. And I know personally that they are looked at and responded to, whether it be a referral to another agency in our government, or having an investigator reach out to the person who left it,” said Rocah.

Regarding policing, Rocah said her office has begun a prosecutor training series focusing on ethics. In February, she created two new positions in her office’s public corruption and law enforcement integrity unit. “It’s just a very important goal to make sure that people can have confidence in law enforcement and in our public officials. That is part again of what gives people a feeling of safety,” said Rocah.

Rocah also said that her work will include the business community. “We want to be able to hear from everybody,” she said. “Making the office more accessible—making me more accessible—has been a big part of what we’re trying to do. That’s the idea for the hotline,” she said.

A video of Rocah’s presentation is posted on the Business Council of Westchester’s Facebook page.

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