DOJ Concerned About ‘Gap’ in Hate-Crime Statistics, Rosenstein Says

(Bloomberg) -- Two days after the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the Justice Department is concerned about a “gap in hate-crime statistics.”

“According to the latest FBI Uniform Crime Report, 88 percent of agencies that provide hate-crimes data to the FBI reported zero hate crimes in 2016,” Rosenstein told a conference Monday on such attacks that was scheduled before the shootings that left 11 people dead. “We are reviewing the accuracy of those reports. Moreover, simply because hate crimes are not reported does not mean they are not happening.”

The FBI has said it’s pursuing hate-crime charges against the suspect in the Pittsburgh killings, whose social media postings embraced anti-Semitic themes and blamed a Jewish nonprofit that helps resettle refugees for bringing “invaders in that kill our people.”

Rosenstein called the shootings a “stark reminder of the need to protect all Americans against hate crimes.” He praised law enforcement officers “who ran straight into the line of fire to protect their fellow citizens.”

Reported Incidents

More than 6,100 hate-crime incidents were reported in 2016, the latest full year of data available from the FBI. The agency defines hate crimes as criminal offenses “motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

Announcing several new steps, Rosenstein said the National Institute of Justice, the department’s research arm, is giving about $840,000 to the University of New Hampshire to conduct a nationwide study of hate-crime incidents and victims, and the Justice Department has launched an online portal providing information and resources.

The veteran prosecutor said that those participating in Monday’s conference in Washington included the parents of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was murdered in Wyoming 20 years ago.

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