Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Every step toward the goal of justice requires the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” On Tuesday, the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice will host a group of such dedicated individuals at a conference that will focus on investigating and prosecuting hate crimes, a fitting reflection of the civil rights leader’s words.
The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the E.H. Hereford University Center, and is sponsored by the Dallas division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas. The keynote speaker will be Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. Organizers expect the event to draw a large audience from law enforcement offices through North Texas, including many FBI and attorneys general from the region. The attendees will learn about recent federal hate crime statutes as well as strategies for identifying, investigating, prosecuting and preventing hate crimes.
The FBI asked The University of Texas at Arlington to host the event in light of the department’ active involvement in the community, said Dr. Alejandro del Carmen, Professor and department chair.
“One of my visions is to have the practitioners work with the academics hand-in-hand,” said del Carmen. “It will benefit our students, it will benefit our research, and it will benefit our community.”
The conference is held once a year in a different part of the United States. It is currently making its way through the Midwestern, particularly southern states. The specific topic changes each year, but civil rights is always a primary issue, said del Carmen.
“Hate crime legislation has been at the center of a lot of debate … and there is much need for discussion from the law enforcement side as well as the legal side to make sure that they work together to fully understand what that definition implies and how [hate crime] cases can be carried out to full justice,” he said.
Del Carmen added that it is a privilege for the department to host this conference.
[Written by Ben Muir, College of Liberal Arts]