Civil Rights
en Español

1997 Hate Crimes Report

The report is available for downloading in Adobe Acrobat format.

Executive Summary

This 1997 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 1997 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 1997 Report includes data reported by 46 participating agencies, a decrease of 10 percent from 1996, when 51 agencies reported hate crimes. Over all, only 11.5 percent of the 400 participating agencies reported hate crimes this year. In 1996, a total of 212 hate crimes was reported. In 1997, 160 hate crimes were reported, representing a decrease of 24.5 percent from the previous year. Although several factors, including variations in reporting methods and the fewer number of reporting agencies, may have contributed to the decrease in the reported number of hate crime incidents, no single factor stands out to explain the decrease. It would appear unlikely, however, that this reduction is the result solely of a drop in the number of hate crimes committed in the state. One possible explanation for this decrease may be the need for 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 through out Florida. To date, more than 1,500 law enforcement personnel from more than 40 jurisdictions have received this training. Additionally, this office participates in the development of a national hate crimes training curricula for state and local law enforcement officers. The development of these curricula is 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 is to address the need for specialized training in this area, and plans are underway to have train-the-trainer programs presented through-out the United States.

The 160 reported hate crime offenses represent criminal behavior that has been defined, categorized, and codified in Florida Statutes. Even though the number of hate crimes reported is lower for 1997, the motivational patterns underlying the incidents remained consistent with previous years. For example, race remains the most common motivation for hate crime, accounting for 70.6 percent of the 1997 incidents, compared to 74 percent in 1996. The other motivational types included in the report were ethnicity 4.4 percent, relig ious beliefs 11.3 percent, and sexual orientation 13.8 percent. While the total number of hate crimes based on race, ethnicity, and religion decreased in 1997, the number of reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation increased from 6 in 1996 to 22 in 1997, an increase of 267 percent.

Hate crimes are classified by two types of offenses, crimes against persons and crimes against property. Crimes against persons accounted for 74 percent of all reported hate crimes in 1997, compared to 70 percent during 1996. Crimes against property accounted for 26 percent of all reported hate crimes in 1997, compared to 30 percent in 1996, a reduction of 4 percent.

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 un reported crimes or crimes that may be hate related but are not classified as such by the local law enforcement agency.