TOPEKA – (April 14, 2021) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today led a bipartisan effort in pressing Congress for increased funding to provide the necessary tools for state and local law enforcement agencies to identify, report and prevent hate crimes in their jurisdictions.
Schmidt co-authored a letter to congressional leaders with District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine to urge passage of the Jabara-Heyer No Hate Act. The legislation would provide federal grants to improve hate crimes reporting and increase penalties for federal hate crimes in an effort to stem the rise in hate, extremism and bias-motivated crimes across the United States. Schmidt and Racine were joined by the attorneys general of 33 other states and territories in their message.
The grants would be used to train employees on identifying, classifying, and reporting hate crimes in the FBI’s national database; assist with states’ development of programs to prevent hate crimes; increase community education around hate crimes; and create state-run hate crime hotlines.
“For more than two decades, thousands of city, county, college and university, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies have voluntarily submitted hate crimes data to the FBI,” Schmidt and Racine wrote. “However, based on the FBI’s 2019 report, most law enforcement agencies did not participate or reported zero incidents. Exacerbating this gap, less than 25% of law enforcement agencies are using the FBI’s current reporting system, which took effect this year. This lack of data creates critical gaps that inhibit our understanding of the hate problem.”
Schmidt said the bill creates incentives, not mandates, to encourage and assist states to improve their data-collection systems.
A copy of the coalition’s letter to Congress can be found at https://bit.ly/3298Vpt.