At its meeting on Nov. 21, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors prepared to position its Police Department to better combat hate crimes, especially at locations within the county with a history of anti-Semitic acts. Fairfax County Police define bias crime, also called hate crime, as “any unlawful action committed against a person or their property because of race, religious conviction, ethnic/national origin, disability, or sexual orientation.”
“Unfortunately, it is time to redouble our efforts on this front due to rising hate and bias incidents around the country, many stemming from the conflict in Israel and Gaza,” Jeff McKay (D) chairman of the Board of Supervisors said at the meeting.
“Thankfully, our county has been spared the violence that we've seen in other places, but we know there are still significant challenges in our community. We need to be vigilant to ensure that our rich diversity continues to be a source of pride rather than a source of pain. Hate has no place in Fairfax County,” McKay said.
The Board authorized the police department to apply for competitive grant funds under the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services program. The maximum amount requested per location is $150,000; the Board authorized the police department to apply for $139,250 and accept grant funds if awarded.
"The locality that is applying for the maximum amount would be expected to have partnered with multiple institutions and/or non-profit organizations," states the guidelines and application procedures for the 2024 Combatting Hate Crimes Grant Program Funding Opportunity.
The funds would be used for improvement at four facilities, Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax; Little River United Church of Christ, Annandale; Pozez Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia on Little River Turnpike, Fairfax; and Temple B’nai Shalom, Fairfax Station. The goal is to make improvements to better secure the facilities and protect them against hate crimes.
According to Board documents of the Nov. 21 meeting, each of the four organizations will train staff and residents. The funding was available to any Virginia community that established a collaboration program with institutions or nonprofit organizations that had been victims of hate crimes or were at risk of becoming victims.
A project manager will meet monthly with partners to track the projects. Collectively, the projects will help strengthen the facilities.
McKay said that for organizations, not only religious but nonprofits as well, wishing to apply for future grant funding opportunities, next year’s application is expected to open in September.