WESTPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — Law enforcement agencies, state leaders and advocates gathered in Westport on Tuesday to discuss how to identify and prevent hate crimes.

Local police, FBI officials and United States Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery were in attendance at the meeting.

Officials said one of the biggest issues – is that hate crimes often go underreported.

They held this forum to encourage people in town, especially members of the LGBTQ+ community, to come forward.

“We want to create a safe space not only in this room tonight but in communities across the state,” Avery said.

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“There’s a real fear within the LGBTQ community of reporting and I think that’s just been the relationship with police and law enforcement in the past and so we’re hoping to dispel some of that and show the ability to have a partnership with law can work in our favor,” said Brian McGunagle, WestPort Pride Founder.

This meeting was part of a nationwide initiative to combat acts of hate.

“I hope by us getting out it’s personalized. In my case it’s the fbi but it’s not just the fbi, it’s mike, he seemed like a decent guy. They want to do good, want to hear from you, and to spread word among friends and colleagues that if there is something, to encourage people to come forward to us,” said Michael Butsch, Assistant Special Agent in Charge (FBI.)

The FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office will be hosting more events like this in communities across the state.