Hate crime stats more accessible

About a month after a brutal anti-gay hate crime shocked the Bronx and the nation, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed legislation that will require the city to post hate crime statistics on its My Neighborhood Statistics website. On Nov. 8, Bloomberg signed two bills into law that aim to make statistics more accessible to the public for hate crimes for domestic violence incidents. My Neighborhood Statistics, which was launched in 2002 on nyc.gov, provides quality-of-life data by neighborhoods, community districts, police precincts and school districts. “In light of the recent hate crimes in the city, any additional data to help understand and fight both hate crimes and domestic violence will be beneficial to individual neighborhoods and the city as a whole,” Speaker Christine Quinn said in a press release. “The more we can track these crimes, the more hope we’ll have to reduce domestic violence and hate crimes throughout the city.” Although scattered hate crime and domestic violence statistics are available to the public, starting in 2011 this data can be found in a more centralized location. Information on domestic violence can be found through the Mayor's Management Report. Hate Crime in New York State annual reports provide city and borough information. According to the 2008 report, there were 17 reported hate crimes in the Bronx and 259 in New York City. Of the 596 reported hate crimes in the state that year, those motivated by bias against a person’s sexual orientation, like the attacks in the Bronx, was the third most frequently reported by victims, followed by anti-Jewish bias (36 percent) and anti-black bias (25). Bias against gay males was the most common of those motivated by sexual orientation and accounted for 11 percent of the total hate crimes. Nationally, reported hate crimes and those motivated by sexual orientation have decreased, according a report released by the FBI this month. There were 1,384 less reported hate crime offenses in 2009 than 2008. Although the number of single-bias hate crimes based on sexual orientation decreased by 181, the amount of violent crimes – simple and aggravated assault – remained relatively the same. Dirk McCall, the executive director of the Bronx Community Pride Center, believes having local hate crime statistics more accessible may help the city’s numbers-driven administration put more resources behind these issues. “I think it’s good,” McCall said. “I think the more you know about what’s happening and where it’s happening and who it’s happening to is helpful. Bloomberg’s really big into statistics.” Having the data available may only be half the battle. McCall said many hate crimes go unreported and that people who are victims of anti-gay hate crimes in particular often come to the pride center as a resource to discuss their options. “A lot of people are not certain why they were attacked, or they’re embarrassed they were attacked, or they’re not ready to talk about it,” McCall said. “It’s just a matter of whether things are being reported. If they’re not being reported, [the law] is not making a difference.”