NEW YORK (NEWS10) — In response to legislation signed last month, Governor Kathy Hochul has announced the launch of a statewide Hate and Bias Prevention Unit. The new unit will promote acceptance, inclusion, and tolerance and serve as an early warning detection system in local communities.

“Everyone – no matter what color they are, or who they love, or what they believe – should feel safe when they go to work, or go dancing, or visit a house of worship, or send their kids off to school,” said Maria L. Imperial, Commissioner of the Division of Human Rights. “This new unit will advance our mission of equal opportunity, access, and dignity for all in our state.”

Annually, the Division of Human Rights investigates more than 5,000 complaints of discrimination. Last year, they secured more than $6.2 million in monetary damages for individuals who experienced discrimination.

As part of the statewide efforts to combat hate, bias, and discrimination, ten regional councils are being formed that will lead public education and outreach efforts and also serve as a rapid response team to communities affected by a bias or hate incident. The councils will also facilitate the filing of complaints with the Division of Human Rights.

“New York State will use every tool at its disposal to eliminate hate and bias from our communities,” said Governor Hochul. “We will not let the rise in hate incidents that we see happening online, across the country and across the world, take root here at home.”