Sometime in 2019, Law & Order, the long-running NBC legal drama, will expand its franchise to include a 13-episode season spin-off entitled Law & Order: Hate Crimes. The show will follow cases of violence committed against LGBTQ people and other despised Americans.
Though Law & Order first aired in 1990, the show’s 1999 spin-off, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (also known as Law & Order: SVU), focuses on sex crimes. Law & Order: Hate Crimes will be based on the New York Police Department’s real-life hate crimes unit and will operate as part of the department’s Special Victims Unit, borrowing detectives to help solve its crimes.
In a statement, Law & Order creator Dick Wolf said, “As with all of my crime shows, I want to depict what’s really going on in our cities and shine a light on the wide-ranging victims and show that justice can prevail.”
He continued, “20 years ago when SVU began, very few people felt comfortable coming forward and reporting these crimes, but when you bring the stories into people’s living rooms — with characters as empathetic as Olivia Benson — a real dialogue can begin. That’s what I hope we can do with this new show in a world where hate crimes have reached an egregious level.”
Olivia Benson is one of the detectives in Law & Order: SVU. She was conceived when her mother was raped.
Seeing as Law & Order tries to stay relevant to audiences by making its fictionalized cases “ripped from the headlines,” it makes sense that the show’s creators would want to focus on hate crimes since they’re on the rise.
The Washington Post reports, “In both 2015 and 2016, the FBI saw an increase in the number of hate crimes reported to law enforcement, with a significant uptick in the number of incidents targeting Jews, Muslims and the LGBT community.”
The Washington Post says the number of racial hate crimes increased the day after the election of current U.S. President Donald Trump, but adds, “the FBI has yet to release statistics for 2017.”