Bipartisan bill would improve reporting of hate crimes

Bipartisan bill would improve reporting of hate crimes
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Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Pete OlsonPeter (Pete) Graham OlsonWhat's causing the congressional 'Texodus'? Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Texas Republicans sound alarm about rapidly evolving state MORE (R-Texas) introduced legislation Thursday to improve reporting of hate crimes and expand resources for victims.

Beyer and Olson unveiled the National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality (NO HATE) Act in response to high-profile attacks on the LGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim and other communities. They say reporting of such incidents by law enforcement has not kept up with a rise in the crimes.

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“The rise in hate crimes in the United States has reached epidemic proportions in the last few years, and we need law enforcement to have every possible tool to stop it,” Beyer said. “By tracking and reporting incidents of hate crimes nationwide, we can know whether we are making progress towards their prevention.”

“Hate crimes have no place in our society, yet sadly they are on the rise,” added Olson, who represents a Houston-area district. “Representing one of the most diverse districts in America, I see firsthand the impact these hate crimes have on our communities. The NO HATE Act will serve as a vital tool in the fight against hate crimes by improving how law enforcement agencies track and report crimes.”

The NO HATE Act seeks to expedite the implementation of the National Incident-Based Reporting System, which would allow law enforcement agencies to record and report detailed information about hate crimes and other incidents to the FBI.

It also would provide grants to create state-run hotlines to record information about hate crimes, help victims and witnesses get in touch with law enforcement and empower local officials to adopt policies that would identify and investigate hate crimes.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is introducing companion legislation in the Senate.

Beyer and Olson touted the endorsements of a handful of advocacy groups representing the Jewish, Muslim and LGBTQ communities.

“With the spike in bias-motivated violence and harassment across the country, particularly impacting transgender women of color, the need to address the crisis of anti-LGBTQ hate is more urgent than ever,” said David Stacy, Human Rights Campaign’s government affairs director.

“Without a clearer picture of the full scope of this problem, our policymakers, elected officials and law enforcement are deprived of the necessary tools to fully combat this epidemic. This legislation is necessary to improve our data-reporting requirements and we applaud Rep. Beyer for working to fill this significant hole in our nation’s ability to address this often deadly violence,” Stacy said.

Hate crimes increased in the U.S. for the third year in a row in 2017, rising 17 percent from the previous year, according to a 2018 FBI report.