KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City may soon have a new weapon in the battle against hate crimes. Supporters of a new ordinance say they’re on the rise.

On Wednesday, a Kansas City committee took the first step in establishing a task force to study the problem. 

The Finance, Governance and Public Safety Committee approved seven changes to an ordinance Wednesday. They allow the chair of the Human Rights Commission to form a bias incidents task force, which can now include law enforcement.

Bias crimes involve hate-based actions on particular characteristics like race, color, national origin, disability or religion.

“We’ve had quite a few upticks in religious incidents,” said Andrea Dorch, director of the city’s Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Department. “We are not sure if it’s a pattern of discrimination or if it’s a pattern of incidents.”

She told the committee nearly half the hate crimes committed in the last year involved a victim who was Black. She also said there were about 1.6 hate crimes per month. Some amounted to actual crimes, others remained incidents under the law. 

“When you look at this statistic, 44% involve incidents where there’s physical violence,” Councilwoman Melissa Robinson said. “It begs that we do something about this particular issue.”

The ordinance will now move to full council for a vote Thursday.

If approved by the full council, the task force will report back to council at least quarterly with recommendations and data on bias crime incidents it’s seeing in Kansas City. 

“We are trying to get together with law enforcement and community members to make a better process to get those reports and to advise council on developing legislation,” Dorch said. 

This push is to make sure Kansas City is a safe city for everyone.

If you live in Kansas City and feel like you’ve been targeted, you can report it through the My KCMO app or online at kcmo.gov/311. You can also call the Human Rights Commission at 816-513-1836. They’re located on the 4th floor of City Hall.