NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new NYPD initiative is taking aim at hate crimes with the help of five diverse civilians.

On Monday, the department introduced members of a Hate Crime Review Panel at One Police Plaza, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported.

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“Today we are facing nearly daily reports of hate crimes. We need to help stop this,” said Devorah Halberstam, a panel member.

The five community leaders represent New York City’s Black, Asian, Jewish, LGBTQ and Muslim communities, and will help police determine which cases should be investigated as hate crimes.

In attacks where the suspect’s motivation is unclear, the panelists will review the circumstances and send their recommendations to the police and District Attorney.

“We hope, as a review process, we can throw nuances in terms of looking at language, cultures and other aspects,” and Fred Teng, also a panel member.

The announcement comes as hate crimes spike citywide, particularly those targeting Asians. So far this year, there have been 66 possible anti-Asian bias crimes, compared to 12 the same time in 2020.

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In many cases, the DA’s reluctance to file charges has riled the Asian American community.

Back in March, protesters staged a rally over the decision not to charge Salman Muflihi with a hate crime after he allegedly stabbed an Asian man in Chinatown because, “he didn’t like the way the victim looked at him.”

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea hopes the panelists can take another look at cases like that.

“There’s a gap because some people are left wondering, ‘Was that the right thing?’… This is an opportunity to have an independent, outside panel,” Shea said.

The panel will start working immediately. It plans to meet once a month in person and twice virtually.

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CBS2’s Christina Fan contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team