Partnering with Law Enforcement

For over 100 years, ADL has been a leader in identifying and calling out antisemitism and hate. An important part of our work is ensuring that law enforcement agencies and personnel at the local, state and federal levels understand the threats to vulnerable populations.  In order to do this effectively, ADL shares our resources and expertise on extremism.  In 2021 alone, ADL Center on Extremism (COE) provided law enforcement with critical intelligence about extremism over 1,300 times and tracked over 7,300 incidents of hate on our online, interactive H.E.A.T. map.

Unfortunately, there are incidents of hate across the country plaguing some local communities every day. For four decades, since ADL wrote its first model hate crime statute in 1981, we have spearheaded the drafting, enactment and implementation of hate crime laws, working in partnership with law enforcement groups, other civil rights and religious organizations, civic agencies and business leaders. Today, the federal government, 46 states and the District of Columbia have enacted hate crime laws based on or similar to the ADL model.

ADL continues to advocate for comprehensive hate crime laws in all 50 states. We were prominent supporters of the 1990 Hate Crimes Statistics Act and have repeatedly called on law enforcement agencies to improve reporting of hate crimes and data collection, most recently in response to the FBI’s 2020 annual Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA) report. When one individual is targeted by a hate crime, it hurts the whole community.

At the federal level, for more than a dozen years, ADL led a broad coalition of over 250 civil rights, religious, educational, professional, law enforcement and civic organizations advocating for federal hate crime legislation which culminated in the passage of the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act in 2009.  The successful passage of the law provided the federal government with new tools to investigate and prosecute hate crimes targeting victims because of their race, religion, gender, national origin or sexual orientation.

We recognize that hate crime laws are only effective when law enforcement has the tools and the willingness to enforce them. ADL provides programs to increase law enforcement’s understanding of the unique nature of hate crimes, the relevant federal, state and local statutes, and the impact that they have on victims and their communities.

In 2014, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) of Washington, D.C. adopted recommendations provided by ADL and a group of national civil rights organizations, advocacy groups and academic authorities to improve its response to hate crimes and to strengthen the MPD’s relationship with the LGBTQ+ community.

We provide officials with a full spectrum of resources and expertise on hate crimes, online hate and violent extremism. This work is intended and designed to keep vulnerable communities safe and to improve the relationship between law enforcement and those they serve.  Improving that relationship is critically important, and especially challenging at a time when we are more keenly aware than ever before of the understandable distrust of the police that is widespread in many marginalized communities. Substantial progress can only be made if victims and witnesses of hate crimes are comfortable reporting their experiences to law enforcement, and too many are not today, for good reason.  The answer to this is not looking away; it is underscoring the importance of tackling this multifaceted challenge with understanding, sensitivity and perseverance.    

ADL works with law enforcement in:

  • Assisting them with the protection of people and communities from hate and extremism – both online and on the ground;
  • Increasing their understanding of their relationship with the communities they serve, and the critical importance of their role as guardians of the Constitution and the individual rights and liberties that are key to the success of our democracy; and
  • Providing them with information and education to address emerging extremist threats, both on and offline.

Programs, initiatives and impact

By sharing relevant information with law enforcement, we disrupt hate crimes and extremist activity, protecting vulnerable communities from violent threats. We provide law enforcement with educational briefings to help them understand what motivates extremists, how they communicate and how to respond to emerging physical and online extremist threats from across the ideological spectrum.

We educate annually an estimated 15,000 law enforcement personnel from local, state and federal agencies. In 1999, ADL and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum created the Law Enforcement and Society program to educate law enforcement on the lessons of the Holocaust and how to apply those lessons to effectively safeguard democracy and protect against abuse of power. 140,000 law enforcement professionals have participated in the program; it has become a mandatory training requirement for all new FBI Special Agents and Intelligence Analysts.

In 2003, ADL founded the Advanced Training School, which has provided education on extremism and terrorism for senior law enforcement from more than 250 agencies across the U.S. This three-day course provides an examination of major types of extremist movements, case studies of recent terrorist acts presented by law enforcement leaders with firsthand experience, and guidance on the critical importance of protecting civil rights and liberties. Past courses have featured information on global threats and homegrown violent extremism, an inside look at hate by a former white supremacist, and the cyber threat landscape. Recent case studies analyzed how law enforcement responded to the shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018 and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016.

Examples of Impact

In February 2020, following the murder of an Alabama police officer, ADL COE identified the suspect, Preston Johnson, as a white supremacist, and shared those findings with law enforcement officials.

One month later, as the coronavirus pandemic tightened its hold and Zoom meetings proliferated, ADL noted an increasing number of “Zoombombing” incidents, deliberate disruptions of Zoom calls with offensive sounds and images often targeting Jewish audiences. Within days, experts identified known white supremacist Andrew Auernheimer as one of the prime perpetrators.

In June 2020, Ohio neo-Nazi Matthew Slatzer was indicted on federal weapons charges after ADL experts identified him at a number of private and public events. He was captured on film at an April 2020 re-open protest, holding an antisemitic sign.

In December 2020, ADL joined law enforcement in helping a Jewish day school in New York that was the subject of a horrific cyberattack. Students and parents saw Nazi symbols and vile antisemitic language flash across their screen. ADL immediately connected school officials with the appropriate authorities and hosted a webinar on cyberhate for the community, with ADL experts and FBI special agents, discussing ways parents can protect their family, and how religious institutions can protect their members.

Immediately following the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, ADL identified dozens of extremists who took part in the insurrection and shared this information with federal authorities. Several of these extremists have been charged with federal crimes.