HD63 - Hate Crimes

Executive Summary:
A. Introduction

With the input of a work group specifically convened to assist the Crime Commission in its study of hate crimes, the Commission formulated its findings based on data collected from surveys, statutory and case research and information provided by state and federal agencies and public interest organizations. This information prompted the Commission to make recommendations with respect to bias motivation categories and law enforcement training.

B. Bias Motivation Categories

The Commission's research revealed that the federal Hate Crimes Statistics Act requires the U.S. Attorney General to collect data on crimes that manifest prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity, whereas the Code of Virginia only requires the Virginia Department of State Police (VSP) to collect data regarding criminal acts motivated by bias against race, religion and national origin. Though it is the current practice of the VSP to collect data on criminal acts motivated by sexual orientation bias, the Crime Commission recommended that Virginia's data collection statute be amended to codify this practice. In addition, the Crime Commission recommended that, at such time as the federal Hate Crimes Statistics Act is amended to recognize crimes motivated by gender and disability bias, the Commission should reconsider including gender and disability as bias motivation categories in Virginia's criminal hate crimes statutes and civil action and data reporting statutes.

C. Law Enforcement Training

Survey results indicated that, while a substantial majority of responding criminal justice training providers have not offered hate crimes training to their member law enforcement agencies, the majority of these agencies would be interested in receiving such training. The Commission also discovered that several federal agencies have developed hate crimes training curricula and made such available to states for law enforcement training purposes. Consequently, the Crime Commission recommended that the Commission, in conjunction with the Departments of Criminal Justice Services and State Police, seek federal funding to sponsor a hate crimes train-the-trainer seminar for law enforcement officers and instructors that would include sensitivity training as well as training on how to recognize, report and respond to hate crimes.