NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C (WCBD) – Hate crimes and extremism were at the forefront of the conversation inside a law enforcement conference at Trident Technical College on Thursday.

“Crimes of hate and incidents of hate are things that erode the fabric of our communities,” said Eytan Davidson, the Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League Southeast.

Nearly 100 law enforcement participants from around South Carolina were educated on how to better respond to incidents of that type during the inaugural conference. Brandon Fish with the Charleston Jewish Federation said step one is knowing how to recognize a hate crime.

The organization has been pushing for the state to pass a hate crimes law.

“In South Carolina, without a law, unfortunately a lot of the hate crimes that occur don’t get tracked and reported to the FBI’s database and we’re hoping to change that,” said Fish, who serves as the Director of Community Relations for the federation.

The conference was led by the ADL and featured experts from around the nation. Jason Roebuck delivered a presentation on behalf of the Secure Community Network, where he talked about keeping Jewish institutions safe.

“We hope and we know that law enforcement wants to help, and we just want to give them some other avenues and some other access to be able to help us do what we do, and law enforcement here has been great,” said Roebuck, SCN’s Regional Security Advisor.

According to organizers, the idea for the event came from the late Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds.  

“It was one of the last initiatives that we actually planned together and it’s combatting hate crimes and domestic extremism and it’s bringing together all our talent in the state and having the conversation,” said Charleston Police Chief Chito Walker.

The conference comes as the number of hate crimes reaches an all-time high. Davidson said the conference was scheduled before the deadly Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel on October 7th. Since then, he said ADL data shows a nearly 400% increase in antisemitic incidents compared to the same time last year.

“So, right now we are in a very tense moment, and this is an extremely relevant topic,” Davidson told News 2.

Organizers said they hope to make this an annual event. They are asking people to report incidents of hate or antisemitism to law enforcement and the ADL.