ATLANTA — The police chiefs of Georgia are now endorsing hate crime legislation, saying they are "committed to preserving the rights of all crime victims and expressly opposed to bigotry and prejudice in any form."
It comes amid growing momentum for a hate crime law in Georgia, one of only four state without such legislation.
The pronouncement was made in a resolution by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.
The resolution also acknowledges "there currently is a need in the State of Georgia for alternative mandatory sentencing in cases where it is found the perpetrator selected the victim based upon bias against that person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental disability or physical disability" and that "victims of hate crimes need a process to seek redress from the perpetrators of those crimes through civil actions."
It goes on to say the association of chiefs of police "support legislation that enhances and mandates the criminal sentence of a perpetrator" who is found guilty of targeting a victim out of bias.
Currently, SB 166, "Georgia Enhanced Penalties for Hate Crimes Act" is tabled in the Georgia State Senate after it was introduced last February, the latest in a succession of failed attempts to jumpstart progress on a hate crime law.
A Georgia House bill, HB 426, passed last year in a tight vote but was also tabled in the Senate.
Currently, the Georgia General Assembly session is suspended through June 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.