Civil Rights
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2003 Hate Crimes Report

The report is available for downloading in Adobe Acrobat format.

Executive Summary

This 2003 Hate Crimes in Florida Report, submitted in accordance with the 1989 Hate Crimes Reporting Act, contains data reported by individual local law enforcement agencies throughout Florida. These agencies reported the occurrence of hate crime incidents in 2003 under the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) information system. Currently, 427 agencies participate in the UCR system, and this report is based solely on the information provided to FDLE by the reporting agencies.

Of the 427 participating agencies, 86 reported hate crimes in 2003. This was a slight reduction from the 90 agencies that reported hate crimes the previous year and represents one-fifth of the total number of agencies that participate in the UCR reporting system.

Local law enforcement agencies reported a total of 275 hate crimes in 2003, down from the 306 total a year earlier – a 10.1 percent reduction. Several factors, including variations in reporting methods, may have contributed to the change in the reported number of hate crime incidents.

Race was the motivating factor behind virtually half the reported hate crimes (49.1 percent), while the victim’s race or ethnicity/national origin accounted for two-thirds (67.6 percent) of the reported hate crimes. However, the percentage of hate crimes based on race was actually the second lowest since hate crime reporting began and only the second time it was below 50 percent (the other being 2001, when hate crimes incidents were dramatically affected by the 9/11 terror attacks).

Reports for 2003 also detail a clear growth in hate crime incidents motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation. The 55 offenses in this category represent the third highest total since reporting began in 1991, and the 20.0 percent share of overall hate crimes is the highest proportion for this category ever recorded in Florida. In the last four years, Florida law enforcement agencies reported more hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation (194) than the combined total for the first eight years of hate crimes reporting (193).

Among all motivation categories in 2003, race-motivated hate crimes represented 49.1 percent of reported hate crimes, followed by sexual orientation 20.0 percent, ethnicity 18.6 percent, and religion 12.4 percent. No hate crimes were reported under the category of advanced age or mental/physical disability for 2003.

Hate crimes are classified by two types of offenses: crimes against persons and crimes against property. Reported hate crimes in 2003 indicated a slight shift away from crimes against individuals and toward crimes against property. Crimes against persons accounted for 68 percent of all incidents reported in 2003, while crimes against property accounted for the remaining 32 percent. The previous year, this breakdown was 72 percent against persons and 28 percent against property.

Caution should be applied in interpreting this data and in drawing conclusions solely from information contained in this report, as variations may exist among law enforcement agencies in how they gather and report hate crime data. 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 reporting agencies.

Since 1994, this office has conducted hate crimes training seminars for state and local law enforcement agencies throughout Florida. Through the 2003 reporting year, more than 3,500 law enforcement personnel from more than 272 jurisdictions received this training.