TALLAHASSEE – LAWFUEL- The Law News Network – Attorney General…

TALLAHASSEE – LAWFUEL- The Law News Network – Attorney General Charlie Crist today released the annual Hate Crimes in Florida report detailing incidents of hate-related offenses that occurred during 2004. The number of hate crimes reported by
local law enforcement agencies increased by 21.5 percent over the previous
year, with the total of 334 reported hate crimes representing the
third-highest annual total since reporting began in 1990.

Compared to the previous annual report, the figures for 2004 showed a
moderate increase in the share of hate crimes attributed to race but a
decrease in hate crimes motivated by the victim?s sexual orientation.
Crimes motivated by the victim?s race or ethnicity/national origin combined
to account for 72.2 percent of all reported hate crimes in 2004, up from a
combined 67.2 percent one year earlier.

?Hate crimes are among the most senseless of acts, driven by fear and
bigotry and devoid of any measure of rational thought. Public awareness
remains crucial in our efforts to stop hate crimes in our state,? said
Crist. ?Despite the overall increase in reported incidents, the combined
efforts of government, community organizations and law enforcement remain
strong in combating the scourge of hate crimes.?

The statistics used in preparing the Hate Crimes in Florida report
record a separate offense for each victim reported to the state. In
contrast, some law enforcement statistics are recorded per incident,
resulting in different statistics for the same offenses.

Offenses motivated by the victim?s sexual orientation accounted for
15.6 percent of all hate crimes in 2004, one year after that category
showed its highest proportion ever recorded in Florida (20.0 percent). The
motivation category showed a slight reduction from 55 to 52 reported
offenses, concluding a four-year stretch in which Florida law enforcement
agencies reported more hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation than the
combined total on that category for the first eight years of hate crimes
reporting.

The report also noted a slight shift toward hate crimes targeting
individuals rather than property. Crimes against persons accounted for 76
percent of reported hate crimes in 2004, up from 68 percent the previous
year, while hate crimes against property dropped from 32 percent to 24
percent of the total.

Data in the Hate Crimes Report was submitted by local law enforcement
agencies to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which then provided
it to the Attorney General?s Office for reporting. Since 1994, the Attorney
General?s Office has conducted hate crimes training seminars for state and
local law enforcement agencies throughout Florida. Through the end of the
period covered by the latest annual report, more than 3,500 law enforcement
personnel from more than 272 jurisdictions had received this training.
The Hate Crimes in Florida Report is prepared each year pursuant to
the Hate Crimes Reporting Act, section 877.19, Florida Statutes. The report
summarizes data collected by local law enforcement agencies and submitted
to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Any attempt to rank or
categorize an agency, county or region based solely on this report may be
misleading by making it appear that certain areas have a high number of
hate crimes when in fact their law enforcement agencies have different
polices of identifying and reporting such crimes. The report does not
include unreported crimes or those that may have been hate-related but were
not classified as such by the local law enforcement agency.

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