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1998 Hate Crimes Report

The report is available for downloading in Adobe Acrobat format.

Executive Summary

This 1998 Hate Crimes in Florida report, submitted in accordance with the 1989 Hate Crimes Reporting Act, contains data reported by individual county and local law enforcement agencies throughout Florida. These agencies reported the occurrence of hate crime incidents in 1998 under the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) information system. Currently, 400 agencies participate in the UCR system, and this Report is based solely upon the information provided to FDLE by the reporting agencies.

The 1998 Report includes data reported by 63 participating agencies, an increase of 37 percent from 1997, when 46 agencies reported hate crimes. Over all, only 15.8 percent of the 400 participating agencies reported hate crimes this year.

In 1997, a total of 160 hate crimes was reported. In 1998, 203 hate crimes were reported, representing an increase of 26.9 percent from the previous year. Although several factors, including a greater number of reporting agencies, may have contributed to the increase in the reported number of hate crime incidents, no single factor appears to explain the increase. One possible explanation for the increase is the availability of more specialized training in the detection, identification, investigation, and reporting of crimes motivated by hate.

Since 1994, the Office of the Attorney General has conducted hate crimes training seminars for state and local law enforcement agencies throughout Florida. To date, more than 2,200 law enforcement personnel from more than 50 jurisdictions have received this training. Additionally, in 1998 this office participated in the development of national hate crimes training curricula for state and local law enforcement officers. The development of these curricula was a joint effort by the U.S. Department of Justice, the National Association of Attorneys General, the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training, and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Its purpose was to address the need for specialized training in this area. In 1998, train-the-trainer programs were presented throughout the United States. The curricula and the train-the-trainer programs emphasize the need to add prosecutors and victim advocates to the cadre of persons conducting these hate crimes training programs. This process has enhanced the training program and enabled more training programs to take place.

The 203 reported hate crime offenses represent criminal behavior that has been defined, categorized, and codified in Florida Statutes. The general motivational patterns underlying these incidents remain consistent with previous years. For example, race remains the most common motivation for hate crime, accounting for 62.6 percent of the 1998 incidents, compared to 70.6 percent in 1997. The other motivational types included in the report were ethnicity 10.3 percent, religious beliefs 13.3 percent, and sexual orientation 13.8 percent. The number of reported hate crimes increased for each of these motivational types in 1998.

Hate crimes are classified by two types of offenses, crimes against persons and crimes against property. Crimes against persons accounted for 62 per cent of all reported hate crimes in 1998, down from 74 percent during 1997. Crimes against property accounted for 38 percent of all reported hate crimes in 1998, compared to 26 per cent in 1997. Again, caution should be applied in interpreting this data and in drawing conclusions solely from information contained in this report. It is important to note that this report does not include unreported crimes or crimes that may be hate-related but are not classified as such by the local law enforcement agency.