Attorney General Neronha announces Civil Rights Team to investigate hate crimes
PROVIDENCE, R.I (WLNE) – Attorney General Peter Neronha established a Civil Rights Team to focus on the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes and police misconduct.
The team is made up of criminal and civil attorneys to ensure that civil rights issues are addressed with professionalism and scrutiny.
The Civil Rights Team also provides robust training and education programs in partnership with community organizations, including the Jewish Alliance, the Rhode Island Commission on Prejudice and Bias, and several police departments across the state.
“While increasing and expanding civil rights work has been one of my top priorities, our goal is to build and embed an approach that lives well beyond my administration,” Neronha said. “We adopted this new structure after reviewing similar models in other states for best practices and engaging in many conversations with advocates, community organizations and elected officials.
A joint investigation model is being used by the team to analyze cases and determine if a criminal or civil action should be sought.
“It’s a smart way to make sure we are approaching these matters consistently and developing expertise within the office,” Neronha said. “Having our Civil Rights Advocate work alongside our prosecutors helps bring a fresh perspective and ensures we are bringing cases where we should. Different perspectives make for better decisions.”
According to a law enforcement guidance issued earlier this week, Neronha recommended that each police department designate a Hate Crimes and Civil Rights Liaison to serve as a department contact to the Civil Rights Team.
The team consists of the attorney general’s Civil Rights Advocate Keith Hoffman, Chief of the Civil Rights Prosecution Unit Don Guglielmo and Special Assistant Attorney Generals Robert Johnson and Michael McCabe.
Other areas of responsibility for the Civil Rights Team include excessive use of force by police and other civil rights violations, such as when a perpetrator interferes with an individual’s constitutional or legal rights by force or threats of force.