“That’s what’s so important about these reports,’’ he said. “They say it. It’s not just me saying it. … They’re validating what I’m saying. But when it comes from me, sometimes it’s taken with a grain of salt that I’m doing it for a political reason.’’
The 2011 Hate Crimes in Florida Report ranked Broward County as fifth in the state for total hate crime offenses reported that year.
In Florida, hate crimes are those in which the perpetrator intentionally selects a victim or property based on race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, advanced age or other factors.
Florida’s Hate Crimes Statute reclassifies such criminal offenses for more severe punishment. However, because motivation is the key factor in determining whether an act is a hate crime, it is often up to the investigating law enforcement officer or agency to determine whether a particular act is a hate crime and will be reported as such to the state.
What’s more, the latest report from the attorney general’s office does not include hate crimes committed against the homeless because homeless status is not indicated in criminal reports and is not required to be collected by police.
Still, criminal justice experts say hate crimes statutes and aggressive enforcement do help reduce the instances of those crimes.
Joe Pollini, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, said he saw similar efforts targeting domestic violence and hate crimes produce positive results during more than 30 years as a New York City police officer.
“Once you bring those things to light and bring it to the public’s knowledge and you aggressively pursue it,’’ he said, “there’s no question that it diminishes the amount of times that it will happen.’’