Bias/Hate-Related Crimes

It is a SUNY Old Westbury University Police mandate to protect all members of the University community by preventing and prosecuting bias or hate crimes that occur within the campus jurisdiction. Hate crimes, also called bias crimes or bias-related crimes, are a criminal activity motivated by the perpetrators’ bias or attitude against an individual victim or group based on perceived or actual personal characteristics such as race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. Hate based crimes have received renewed attention in recent years, particularly since the passage of the federal Hate/Bias Crime Reporting Act of 1990 and the New York Hate Crimes Act of 2000 (Penal Law Article 485). Copies of the law are available from the Office of University Police at the University.

Penalties of bias-related crimes are very serious and range from fines to imprisonment for lengthy periods, depending on the nature of the underlying criminal offense, the use of violence, or previous convictions of the offender. Perpetrators who are students will also be subject to campus disciplinary procedures where sanctions including expulsion are possible.

Hate crime threats come in many forms, and each threat must be individually evaluated. When a threat occurs, it is vital to notify law enforcement and make every attempt to preserve evidence. The below general tips can be helpful when confronted with a hate crime threat. A True Threat is a serious communication of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence against a particular individual or group of individuals. A True Threat is not protected by the First Amendment and can be a prosecutable offense as a hate crime.

Physical Threat - A physical threat is an in-person True Threat which is deemed to place the recipient or others in imminent danger. A totality of the circumstances standard suggests that there is no single deciding factor in a physical threat assessment. One must consider all the facts and context and conclude from the whole picture whether there is a possible imminent threat. When confronted with an imminent physical threat of harm, you have three options: Run, Hide, and/or Fight.

Verbal Threat - A verbal threat is an in-person True Threat that is deemed not to place the recipient in immediate danger. • If the perpetrator leaves, note their direction of travel. • Immediately notify law enforcement by calling 911. • Write down the threat exactly as it was communicated. • Note the description of the person who made the threat: Name (if known), Gender,  Race, Body Size (Height, Weight, etc.),  Distinguishing Features, Type/Color of Clothing,  Hair and Eye , Voice (Loud, Deep, Accent, etc.).

Phoned Threat - A phoned True Threat is one received telephonically. The recipient of the threat should attempt to obtain as much information about the caller and the threat as possible, unless the threat is deemed to put the recipient or others in harm. • Remain calm and do not hang up. • Attempt to solicit information to determine if the threat is specific, realistic, and poses an immediate danger to the safety of others. • If possible, signal others to listen and immediately notify law enforcement by calling 911. • If the phone has a display, copy any numbers or letters identifying the caller. • Write down the exact wording of the threat. • Keep the caller on the line for as long as possible and attempt to gather as much information as possible. • Record the call, if possible. (Some states require both parties to consent to a recording.) • Be available for interviews with law enforcement.

Electronic Threat - An electronic threat is a True Threat received over the internet, such as through email or social media. Forensic examination can often reveal valuable information that is initially unseen. It is important that the communication is treated as evidence. • DO NOT delete the electronic threat. Forensic examination may uncover additional details. • Leave the message open on the computer. • Immediately notify law enforcement by calling 911. • Print, photograph, or copy the message and subject line. Note the date and time. • If knowledgeable, take efforts to preserve all electronic evidence.

Written/Visual Threat - A written or visual True Threat is one that is received in a written or graphic manner, such as handwritten notes or graffiti. • Handle the document/item as little as possible. DO NOT DISCARD THE ITEM, REGARDLESS OF HOW OFFENSIVE. • This item is evidence and may contain additional clues for law enforcement. • Immediately notify law enforcement by calling 911. • Precisely rewrite the threat on another sheet of paper and note the following: ⚬ Date, time, and location threat was found. ⚬ Any situations or conditions surrounding the discovery or delivery. ⚬ Full names of anyone who saw the threat. • Secure the original threat; DO NOT alter the item in any way. ⚬ If small/removable, place in a bag or envelope. Try not to touch the item directly with your hands. ⚬ If large/stationary, secure the location and ensure the threat is not damaged or altered.

Annual reporting of hate/bias crimes that occur on campus can be found in the annual SUNY Old Westbury Security and Fire Safety Report required by the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act and other federal law. A link to the 2023 Security and Fire Safety Report (PDF) can be found below.

View/Download the Security and Fire Safety Report

In addition to preventing and prosecuting hate/bias crimes, the University Police Department at SUNY Old Westbury, in concert with other entities on campus, also assist in addressing bias-related incidents that do not rise to the level of criminal activity. These activities, referred to as bias-related incidents and defined by the University as acts of bigotry, harassment, or intimidation directed at a member or group within the Old Westbury community based on national origin, ethnicity, race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, color, creed, or marital status, may be addressed through the SUNY Old Westbury Discrimination Complaint Procedure or the Code for Student Conduct. Bias incidents can be reported to the University Police as well as to the Affirmative Action Officer at ext. 3179. Hate /bias related crimes committed on campus are included in the compilation of campus crimes included in this document on page 18.

If you are a victim or witness to a hate / bias crime on campus, report it to the University Police by calling the Department at 516-876-3333 from an outside phone or ext. 3333 from any campus phone, using any Emergency Phones on campus, or stopping by University Police Headquarters. The University Police will investigate the incident and follow the appropriate adjudication process.

Victims of bias crimes or bias incidents can avail themselves of counseling and support from the campus by contacting the Center for Counseling and Psychological Wellness Services at 516-876-3053 or in person in the Wellness Wing, First Floor of the Campus Center I-wing.