Hate. It’s the root of many crimes. If you could stop hate — and bring people together in mutual respect of one another — the world would be a more peaceful place.
That’s why a group of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies created the Stop Hate and Respect Everyone (SHARE-Tolerance) program, which promotes tolerance and harmony regardless of factors like race, sexual orientation and religion.
“This program was conceived and designed by deputy sheriffs who saw the importance of law enforcement taking a leadership role in decrying hate and intolerance, and in the prevention of hate crimes,” says Sheriff Leroy D. Baca. “The program was devised to travel into our communities and schools, bringing a dynamic and vital message about tolerance and combating hatred.”
SHARE Tolerance was created with cooperation and support from the Museum of Tolerance, Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission and other organizations. Established in 2008, SHARE Tolerance utilizes a colorful, custom-built 24-seat mobile theater to deliver presentations to schools throughout Los Angeles County.
Each presentation starts with a showing of a 35-minute documentary about hate crimes. After the film, deputies facilitate a 60- to 90-minute discussion about the film and the challenges of combating hate and tolerance.
“Considering the diversity of the communities we serve, this is an especially valuable program,” says Sgt. A.J. Rotella, Executive Director of the Foundation. “Accepting our neighbors, and the differences we all have as human beings, is an important part of creating a harmonious society.”
Cmdr. Carl Deeley says law enforcement officers, unfortunately, often have a front-row seat to see the negative ramifications of hate. “As a deputy, I have seen the terrible things people to do others, for no other reason than the color of their skin, their religious faith, nationality of sexual orientation.”
That is, no doubt, a motivating factor for the approximately 100 deputies who serve as SHARE facilitators. They are all volunteers, and, like the youths they serve, they come from diverse backgrounds.
Deeley adds that he was initially skeptical of the SHARE program, because he has seen tolerance programs backfire elsewhere — but the approach of this particular program works. “It is intended to generate dialogue from the young people,” Deeley says. “Our facilitators are not there to lecture. Rather, they are trained to enable discussion of the issues and encourage a leadership role for the students in their schools and communities.”
Sheriff Baca considers SHARE Tolerance an important vehicle to deliver powerful messages about core American values.
“Tolerance is a key element of democracy,” says Baca. “Hate crimes are assaults on American democracy and the Constitution that this country cherishes. We cannot stand by idly and allow purveyors of hate to gain any ground, especially with our youth.”