Forum held to discuss ways to stop hate crimes in county

SAN DIEGO - Law enforcement from several agencies held a forum in Mission Bay on Sunday to discuss ways to stop hate crimes in San Diego County.

Recent hate crime incidents are drawing concern from law enforcement agencies from across San Diego County.

Three weeks ago, cars and homes in Otay Ranch were vandalized. In late summer, a community center in El Cajon and nearby baseball fields were sprayed with swastikas and hate messages.

It is frustrating for residents and for law enforcement agencies who try to go after those responsible.

According to the latest statistics for California, overall hate crimes were down roughly 4.2 percent, while religious based crimes were up nearly 2 percent.

In San Diego, the number of hate crimes has decreased from 49 in 2010 down to 42 crimes last year. So far this year, there have been 24. However, there has been a notable increase in crimes against religious beliefs.

"In the county of San Diego, unfortunately, we have seen an increase in hate crimes compared from 2010 to 2011… [an] over 20 percent increase," said deputy district attorney Oscar Garcia.

Gagandeep Kaur, who is with the Sikh Foundation of San Diego, told 10News, "When you're sitting in your temple, synagogue, church and something horrible happens, just to know there are people there working on it, to put a name and a face to it, it's very important to me… people like my community."

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