NEW YORK (WABC) -- The NYPD on Tuesday announced the formation of a new Asian Hate Crime Task Force, organized in response to a string of recent crimes against Asians across New York City.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March, NYC has experience 21 anti-Asian hate crime incidents. The biggest spike was in May.
Among the incidents is an attack on an 89-year-old woman who had her shirt set on fire in Brooklyn last month.
The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is is assisting in that investigation.
Among the 21 incidents reported in NYC, 17 have resulted in arrests and four of those arrests were aided by the task force involvement.
Back in May, the NYPD announced that hate crimes against Asian Americans is on the rise.
Chief Rodney Harrison said the increase in incidents is "definitely higher than normal."
"This increase was cultivated due to the anti-Asian rhetoric about the virus that was publicized, and individuals began to attack Asian New Yorkers, either verbal attacks or physical assault. We saw a spike in every borough throughout the city," Harrison said.
He said victims were attacked on trains, buses, parks, in restaurants and while walking in their own neighborhoods.
Harrison said although the Hate Crimes Task Force unit did a good job investigating, the NYPD noticed a reluctance by several complainants to follow up with the investigation.
That is when the NYPD started to formulate putting together the Asian Hate Crime Task Force to help with language barriers, cultural differences or fear of the police.
The task force will continue to build trust and understanding between the NYPD and Asian New Yorkers.