GREAT BARRINGTON -- Chief William Walsh is pleased to announce that the Great Barrington Police Department has joined more than 50 police departments nationwide that are making data related to hate and bias crime publicly available.

In partnership with the Police Foundation, Great Barrington Police will take the important step of promoting transparency and collaboration within the community in order to build awareness of -- and put a stop to -- hate and bias related crimes.

Hate and bias crimes are those that target individuals or groups based on their race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or disability. They are often under reported and consequently not well documented. By releasing this information to the public in the form of open data, the Great Barrington Police Department is aiming to:

-Narrow the reporting gap
-Call more attention to the problem in an effort to better prevent these incidents
-Set a foundation for two-way engagement and problem-solving between law enforcement and the community.

The Great Barrington Police Department has begun actively working to assemble a data set and make it public via the Police Foundation. The department tentatively plans to make that data available by July 1.

"We are dedicating ourselves to doing our part to shine a light on the terrible reality of hate and bias crimes so that we can work together with the entire community to confront these issues head on," Chief Walsh said. "While hate crimes are not something we encounter very often, we are also not immune to it in Great Barrington. I hope that anyone who feels they have been victimized will come to us and report it."

Great Barrington Police have joined 53 other departments from communities ranging from small towns to major cities in a joint effort to identify and eliminate hate and bias crimes.

To see the online database of hate and bias crimes from participating agencies, click here.

Established in 1970, the Police Foundation is a national, non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving policing through innovation and science. For 48 years, the foundation has conducted research on all aspects of policing and is leading the way in promoting and sharing evidence-based practices and innovation among law enforcement.

The foundation is currently working with hundreds of police agencies nationwide, as well as internationally, providing research and translation, training, technical assistance, and modern technology implementation. The foundation is a leader in officer safety and wellness, community policing, open-data, investigations and law-enforcement technology. Its main goal is to improve the way police do their work and the delivery of police services, in order to benefit officers and the communities they serve, as well as reduce crime.

(press release sent to WSBS from the Great Barrington Police Department for online and on-air use, article image taken from the Facebook page of the Great Barrington Police Department)