DOJ launches website to report hate crimes in wake of Pittsburgh fatal shooting

October 29, 2018 GMT

On the heels of a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 people dead, the Justice Department on Monday announced it will launch a website for law enforcement and the public to report hate crimes.

“Simply because hate crimes are not reported does not mean they are not happening,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said announcing the website at a gathering of law enforcement officials.

Roughly 88 percent of law enforcement agencies that provide hate crime data to the FBI, reported zero hate crimes in 2016, raising questions about the accuracy of that data. Mr. Rosenstein said the new website will help the Justice Department and other agencies become more proactive in targeting hate crimes.

“We also need to understand the barrier that law enforcement officers and agencies face in reporting hate crimes to the FBI,” Mr. Rosenstein said. “Together, we can discover ways to improve the reporting of hate crimes so that we can effectively target our resources to the places they are needed.”

The website announcement comes less than 48 hours after Robert Bowers, 46, was arrested and accused of fatally shooting 11 people at a synagogue. Authorities have cited anti-Semitism as the reasons behind the attacks.

While in custody, Mr. Bowers reported told police he wanted “all Jews to die,” according to media reports. Many of his anti-Semitic rants were posted on social media.

In addition, the National Institute of Justice provided an $84,000 grant to the University of New Hampshire to conduct a national survey of hate crimes and incidents to yield a bevy of data on reporting and prosecuting hate crimes. The study will collect data from more than 3,000 law enforcement agencies and 250 prosecutors.

Mr. Rosenstein said improving reporting hate crimes will make it easier to stop attacks like the Pittsburgh synagogue before they happen.

“The information generated should help us to develop more strategic and targeted approaches to prevent hate crimes,” he said.