EDITOR'S NOTE: Multimedia journalist Logan Hall spoke to a mother who became an LGBTQ advocate after her son's death in Orange County. Click the arrow above to watch the video.

SANTA ANA, Calif. — The Orange County Human Relations Council released its hate crime report this week, indicating a rise in reports and instances of hate crimes.

The report, released Thursday, details some steps the council has made to better serve county residents, such as increasing the number of languages in which it distributes materials.

Orange County, and other parts of the country, have been on high alert in recent years for acts of hate as high-profile hate crimes have made their way to headlines, specifically involving Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Hate crimes can vary from harassment, graffiti and arson, as defined by the council’s report. But hate crimes can also be committed without threat of violence through the public distribution of antisemitic flyers.

The report, which collected data from 2021, was voluntary and analyzed findings from 10 different law enforcement organizations in the county. Once the reports of hate crimes were collected, duplicates were eliminated before the data was published.

The report found 398 reports of hate crimes and instances in Orange County, or a 168% increase from five years ago. 

Hate crimes have been a major issue of focus for Orange County and are a part of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department's goals. The department recently asked for additional funding, roughly $3.5 million, which would help the department increase surveillance of information in the public domain, such as social media. It would also help the department create a collection of incidents so it can cross reference reports, including hate crimes, allowing it to spot patterns.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer has prioritized the prosecution of hate crimes with the 2020 announcement of a hate crimes unit. Staffed by three prosecutors and two investigators, it helps train first responders to help collect evidence for hate crime cases.

“No one is born into the world with hate in their heart; hate feeds off inaction and by looking the other way. Here in Orange County, we refuse to look the other way. We refuse to let hate fester and grow and for people to be victimized because of how they look, who they love, or what they believe in,” Spitzer said in the report. “As prosecutors and police officers, we are sending and prosecuting haters to the fullest extent of the law, we are preventing potential victims from ever becoming victimized and helping to create a community where everyone can safely celebrate the diversity that is Orange County’s beauty.”