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NYC Police Official: Mental Illness a Factor in Recent Anti-Asian Attacks 

Inspector Tommy Ng, the new leader of the New York City police's Asian Hate Crime Task Force, is pictured in the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan, April 1, 2021.

The new head of a New York City Police Department task force on Asian hate crimes said Friday that a history mental illness is a common factor among the suspects arrested in recent high-profile attacks on Asians in the city.

NYPD Inspector Tommy Ng was assigned to lead the task force this week following an attack on 65-year-old Asian woman Monday. The attack was caught on security camera video — which went viral on social media — showing the suspect throwing the woman to the ground and stomping on her.

In an attack the week before, also captured on video, a young Asian man was beaten and choked to unconsciousness on a New York subway.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Ng said the Asian American community has had a tendency to not report these kinds of crimes. He said he believed that raising awareness of the assaults would help bring people forward.

He also said the language barrier is always a problem in reporting crimes, and that is why his team has multilingual detectives.

The New York attacks are part of a national spike in anti-Asian hate crimes across the United States, which have drawn widespread attention and condemnation from celebrities to U.S. President Joe Biden. The surge in violence has been linked to misplaced blame on Asians for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NYPD said it had increased patrols in Asian neighborhoods, including using undercover officers to prevent and disrupt attacks.

But Asian American Federation Deputy Director Joo Han told The Associated Press many people in Asian communities do not trust law enforcement.

She is spearheading an effort to train a team of volunteer "safety ambassadors" to de-escalate racially charged incidents while they are happening.

New York City has seen 35 hate crimes with Asian victims so far this year, compared with 11 such attacks by the same time last year, according to wire news reports.