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Suffolk County: Under-reporting hate crimes?

(excerpt from) Newsday.com
Defining a hate crime
by REID J. EPSTEIN

10:45 PM EST, November 16, 2008

When vandals sprayed a block of cars in Mastic with racist graffiti last week, Suffolk County police didn’t consider it a hate crime. But when anti-Semitic symbols were painted onto cars in Jericho in late October, Nassau County police counted it as a hate crime.

In the wake of the Patchogue killing of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero and the arrest of seven local teenagers charged in connection with the stabbing, immigrant activists accused Suffolk County’s Police Department of manipulating its statistics to show county hate crime on the decline, a charge police officials vehemently deny…

In counting hate crimes, Suffolk police adhere strictly to state law, which defines a hate crime as a criminal act against a specific person because of their “race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation,” said Det. Sgt. Robert Reecks, the commanding officer of the department’s eight-man bias crimes unit.

So when the Mastic vandals tagged dozens of cars with anti-black sentiments, police determined the graffiti was not targeted against a specific person. And because the paint easily washed off the cars, police did not even classify it as one of the 65 crimes covered by the state hate crimes law…

Part of the problem with putting weight into any hate crimes statistics, hate crime experts and immigrant advocates say, is that people who are victims of hate crime are less likely to report it to police than victims of other types of crimes. A 2005 FBI report concluded that for every hate crime reported to police, 15 more go unreported.

In Suffolk, where county Executive Steve Levy has built a national reputation on his hard-line policies against illegal immigration that have inflamed local Hispanic leaders, the number of anti-Hispanic hate crimes reported by police has dropped 93 percent in four years – from 15 in 2004 to one in 2007…

Why are hate crimes under reported?

Immigrants and sexual minorities are the two groups most likely to not report themselves as victims of hate crimes, said Randy Blazak, the director of the Hate Crimes Research Network at Portland State University.

Reasons for undercounting of such groups range from the obvious – fear of the police – to a reluctance by some police departments to report such data, Blazak said, for fear of drawing negative attention to their community…

(To read the full story at Newsday, go: here.)

One Response

  1. The Police are corrupt. Hate crimes in suffolk county is being under reported. Its far worse than anyone has even imagined.

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