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Responding to Hate Crimes: A Police Officer's Guide to Investigation and Prevention

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1999
11 pages
The purpose of this guidebook is to enhance the ability of police officers to prevent hate crimes, respond appropriately to hate crimes that do occur, and support the formation of coalitions to rid communities of intolerance.
The book first explains the differences between hate crimes and hate incidents and how to respond to both. A hate crime is defined as a criminal offense committed against persons, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by an offender's bias against an individual's or a group's race, religion, ethnic/national origin, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation. Hate incidents, on the other hand, involve behaviors that, although motivated by bias against the victim because of physical characteristics or beliefs, are not criminal acts. Hostile or hateful speech or other disrespectful and discriminatory behavior may be motivated by bias but is not illegal. The book then explains why it is important to respond to hate crimes quickly and effectively, followed by guidelines for an effective police response to hate crimes. This includes explaining what officers should do immediately upon arriving at the scene of the crime, what officers should do after taking immediate action, and what to do when conducting a thorough follow-up investigation. The book then outlines the key indicators that a hate crime may have been committed, suggests the best approaches for working with victims of hate crime, and describes the ongoing role police should have with hate-crime victims and the community.