Editorial: Battling bias

07/17/2014 7:00 AM |

News that the town is reviving its long-dormant Anti-Bias Task Force is well-received. While bias against our neighbors is something that shouldn’t require a task force — racism is a senseless concept to begin with — it is heartening to know there are people in Riverhead who feel compelled enough to inform the community that crimes based on race and other forms of bias do, unfortunately, happen in our town. And they shouldn’t.

So, what’s next?

The task force should strive not to be solely “incident-driven” but instead work proactively to help prevent problems. By doing so, hopefully a few new volunteers will step up to the plate as the task force reinvigorates itself. Fresh faces will be necessary to continue carrying the message, and there’s no better way to bring new people into the fold than by taking action.

The same goes for the town. In a community as diverse as Riverhead, promoting and supporting the Anti-Bias Task Force in reaching its goals should be considered a priority. It’s encouraging to see Chief Hegermiller taking a seat back at the table.

The next step for the town, which this newspaper has called for in the past, seems to be hiring a native Spanish-speaking police officer once space allows. In a town where 14 percent of the community claims Hispanic origin, at least one of its 86 officers should speak Spanish as a first language. Currently, none does. That needs to change to reflect — and best serve — the Riverhead community at large.