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IACP 2023: Best practices for law enforcement to confront surging antisemitism

With antisemitism and hate crimes at the highest levels in decades, it is critical for law enforcement to train to recognize and investigate hate crimes


People attend a “March Of The Living”, a rally against anti-semitism and for Jewish life, commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, April 20, 2023.

AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

SAN DIEGO — A panel addressed the surge of antisemitism in the U.S. and how law enforcement can protect targets of hate crimes and bias incidents at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference.

Tabari Coleman, a facilitator for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and a community engagement consultant, moderated a panel discussion, including:

  • Elise Jarvis, Director, Law Enforcement Outreach and Partnerships, Anti-Defamation League

  • David Kowalski, Deputy Chief of Police, Los Angeles Police Department.

  • Richard Steinberg, Rabbi, Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot, Irvine, California.

The panelists gave examples of antisemitism and hate crimes and the wide-ranging impacts of antisemitism. For example, Rabbi Steinberg described the real and ongoing impacts of antisemitism on the school he leads, the largest Jewish school in Orange County. His school spends $200,000 per year on school security and he has had to become an expert in school security. He also spends a significant amount of time assessing and mitigating threats to keep his students safe.

Memorable quotes

Here are memorable quotes from the panel discussion:

  • “Hate crimes are reaching the highest levels in two decades.” — Elise Jarvis
  • “For the past 10 years, 100% (of my students) have experienced an antisemitic incident. This is the reality for the young Jewish person. Who knew that when I was in rabbinical school, I would need to become a security expert.” — Rabbi Richard Steinberg
  • “Establishing partnerships is critical to success. It starts at the top with each police organization. We ask our top supervisors to establish relationships. What’s important in your area of responsibility? How can we protect that? How will we respond?” — Deputy Chief David Kowalski

Top takeaways

Here are four top takeaways from the expert panel on the important role of law enforcement in preventing and responding to hate crimes.

1. Antisemitism is rising and worsening in the U.S.

FBI and Anti-Defamation League data point to rising and worsening levels of antisemitism, as well as other types of hate crimes in the U.S. Though this panel was planned before the recent Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, levels of anti-Zionism and white nationalism have been worsening for a number of years, both internationally and in the United States.

Leaders need to examine what is happening around the world and assess how it might affect the people in the community. Law enforcement leaders have a responsibility to make sure people feel safe in their community to attend school and religious services.

2. ADL is a partner of law enforcement

The 110-year-old anti-hate organization is a non-profit that works closely with law enforcement to share expertise on extremism, hate crimes and antisemitism. The ADL shares resources and intelligence with law enforcement. The ADL also offers free in-person and online training to thousands of law enforcement officers each year. One area of focus is making sure officers know how to recognize hate crimes and the impact those crimes have on communities. The ADL also supports law enforcement with 25 regional offices.

Kowalski affirmed the usefulness of ADL resources to assist in briefing command staff and sharing trends and patterns information with regional partners. He specifically discussed the worsening occurrence of swatting incidents, which are happening every day in Los Angeles. As they investigate, ADL resources and intelligence are vital.

3. Create relationships because showing up matters

Yesterday was the best time to start a relationship with the Rabbi and other faith leaders in your community. Today is the next best time to start a relationship. All of the panelists stressed the importance of active outreach, connecting with the leadership and members of the community. Showing up is impactful when a community is under attack and living in a state of fear.

Steinberg shared that the Irvine Police Chief attended services this week, “his (the chief) mere presence made a statement, beyond his words.”

Steinberg asked law enforcement leaders to instruct their patrol officers to write reports in the parking lot of the synagogue. “After writing the report have them knock on the door and say hello,” Steinberg said.

Kowalski shared an anecdote about simply sending a short text to a Rabbi he knew made a significant impact on the other person. He said that it has been a powerful reminder to him that showing up, being present in the community and positive messages can make a significant and lasting impact on the community.

4. Best practices for law enforcement

Beyond building relationships, Jarvis stressed these best practices for agencies of any size:

  • Communicate internally and externally that hate crimes will be taken seriously.

  • Train patrol officers to recognize hate crimes, respond appropriately, understand the impact and communicate that a hate crime has happened through internal channels.

  • Report hate crime data to the FBI and specifically report antisemitism incidents to the ADL.

“Robust hate crime data is a good thing (from the ADL perspective),” Jarvis said. “It is an indicator that an agency can identify these crimes, takes them seriously and is committed to data transparency. The ADL also asks that antisemitism incidents are reported to the ADL online through a form or to a regional office.”

For any questions, as well as law enforcement resources, training and expert consultation Jarvis encouraged attendees to email

Learn more

Operationalizing ‘never again’: Learn about an intercontinental delegation of chiefs of police and sheriffs pledged to never allow history to repeat itself after joining the International March of the Living in Poland.

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1, EMS1 and Gov1. Greg has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, paramedic and runner. Greg is a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Ask questions or submit article ideas to Greg by emailing him at and connect with him on LinkedIn.