HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Following an uptick in hate crimes throughout Central Virginia, local law enforcement agencies are partnering with members of the Asian American community.

The Henrico County Police Division investigated an act of vandalism after a business owner found hateful messages and racist slurs spray painted on his restaurant. That business owner was Tony Sappal from India K’Raja, a restaurant in Henrico.

Sappal is only one of many victims that law enforcement agencies say they have seen following an uptick in hate crimes. Henrico Police said they have received two reports in the past month.

Members of the community are now coming forward and trying to work together to reverse this trend.

“If all the people of color communities work together, we’ve got to have a very strong voice to change the way we’re doing business,” said Tinh Phan, Executive Director for the Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce.

A flyer sent out by Henrico Police to the community stated they would be implementing a hate crime deterrence by offering a no-cost law enforcement security presence for locations that have fallen victim to a hate crime.

Criteria for this initiative are as follows:

  • The location must be in Henrico County.
  • The location must reasonably be considered the target of a hate crime.
  • Only one officer will be provided for a maximum of 3 hours.
  • Normal secondary employment requirements may apply depending on the scope of the request.

Henrico police said the intent of this service is to help deter hate crime activity, not to provide large community-wide event security or traffic direction.

Ashland, Hanover, Richmond and Chesterfield have similar initiatives aimed toward crime prevention, all of which include relationship building within the community.

“That is something that we are going to have to educate our community on to make sure everybody stands up and stands tall,” Phan said.