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Cryan-Greenstein Bill Would Require Reporting of Bias Incidents to FBI, Improve Collection of Hate Crime Statistics

TRENTON – As hate crimes in New Jersey continue to rise, a Senate committee today advanced legislation, S-2268, that would require the New Jersey Attorney General to report bias intimidation offenses to the FBI for inclusion in their annual report on hate crimes.

“Hate crimes have a devastating impact on victims, families, and communities,” said Senator Cryan, the vice chair of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee and former Sheriff of Union County. “But the number of crimes motivated by bias and hate all across the country are under-reported. We want to address some of the shortcomings of data reporting to better equip law enforcement agencies to protect people and to tackle the rampant culture of violent intolerance that persists.”

Over the past three years, hate crimes have risen in New Jersey. In 2019, 561 hate crimes were reported. In more than half of reported hate crimes last year people were targeted because of their race or ethnicity, while 53 incidents were linked to perceived sexual orientation and seven were due to gender identity.

“To effectively accumulate reliable data on hate crimes, the FBI works to collect data reported by federal, state, local, tribal, and college and university law enforcement agencies nationwide. Reliable statistics help the FBI to provide a representative picture of hate crimes to inform, educate, and strengthen communities,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer), the Chair of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. “This data helps law enforcement and the government to identify challenges and direct resources to combat these crimes, to support crime victims and to help law enforcement in its work.”

Under current New Jersey law, a person is guilty of a bias intimidation crime if they commit, attempt to commit, conspire with another to commit, or threaten the immediate commission of an offense intended to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity.

The bill was approved by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.