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(MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE, LOS ANGELES) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today released statewide hate crime statistics for 1998 and announced the formation of a Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes. Joined by law enforcement officials from Los Angeles, civil rights leaders and citizens, Lockyer also unveiled a new Department of Justice protocol for rapid response to hate crimes.
"The horrifying events of the past year in California and across the country are a sad reminder that the venom of hate continues to pervade society," Lockyer said. "Whether hate-mongers use gun violence, arson or other illegal means to spread their poison, we in law enforcement and communities throughout California must respond swiftly and make it clear that such behavior will not be tolerated. We must turn our outrage over recent tragedies into action that increases respect for diversity."
The Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes will advise the Attorney General on methods to improve: hate crime prevention; tolerance and appreciation for diversity; law enforcement training; monitoring and suppression of organized, extremist hate groups; victims' services; and, the strength and efficacy of state criminal and civil rights laws aimed at preventing and punishing perpetrators of hate crimes. The honorary Chair of the Commission is renowned civil rights crusader Fred Korematsu. Interned as a Japanese-American citizen during World War II, Mr. Korematsu has drawn upon his past victimization to become a leader in California and throughout the world in teaching tolerance and respect for diversity.
One of the first priorities for the Commission will be to recommend methods to improve the reporting of hate crimes.
"The reporting of hate crimes in California is central to developing effective measures to combat these despicable acts. Improved reporting and analysis of hate crimes will support our efforts to fund prevention and education programs," Lockyer said.
Lockyer also unveiled a new Department of Justice Rapid Response Protocol for hate crimes. The protocol will ensure that there will be an immediate deployment of Department of Justice resources when a hate crime involving serious injury, death or significant destruction of property occurs. Department resources will appropriately assist local and federal law enforcement authorities in the investigation, identification, arrest, prosecution and conviction of the perpetrators. The Department's forensic services, intelligence specialists, profilers, criminal and civil rights attorneys, and victim's support staff will offer immediate assistance to law enforcement agencies and victims of hate crimes.
The Department of Justice 1998 Hate Crime in California report shows that 1,750 hate crime events were reported by California law enforcement agencies last year -- nearly five per day.
Highlights of the 1998 report include:
* The Department of Justice received reports from local law enforcement agencies detailing more than 1,800 hate crime offenses.
* Included in these events were 2,136 victims and 1,985 known suspects.
* 64.8 percent of the events were motivated by the race/ethnicity of the victim.
* 68.8 percent of the offenses involved a violent crime.
* 22.1 percent of the offenses were motivated by the sexual orientation of the victim.
* Most of the hate crimes occurred on a highway, road, alley, street or sidewalk (25.3 percent) or at the home or residence of the victim (31.8 percent).
* There were a total of 244 hate crime complaints filed by district attorneys and elected city officials. There were a total of 131 convictions, which results in a conviction rate (131/244) of 53.7 percent.
The Attorney General's Hate Crime Reporting Program was implemented in 1994. All law enforcement agencies in California participate in this program. Each law enforcement agency submits copies of bias-motivated crime reports to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on a monthly basis. Reports received by DOJ are reviewed by at least two members of the bias-motivated crime unit before the data are included in the aggregate reports. Copies of the report can be found at the Department of Justice website: http://caag.state.ca.us.