Rep. Israel Introduces Legislation to Create National Hate Crimes Hotline

Press Release

Date: Nov. 17, 2016
Location: Washington, DC

Today, Congressman Steve Israel (D-Huntington) introduced legislation to establish a national, toll-free telephone hotline, and secure website, where victims of hate crimes can anonymously find information on hate crimes, as well as counseling, mental health and physical health services in their area.

According to the Uniform Crime Report on hate crimes that was released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Monday, there has been an uptick of hate crimes in 2015 with a rise of about 6 percent over the last year. Of that increase, more than 50 percent of the incidents in the reporter were driven by race, ethnicity or ancestry.

Rep. Israel said, "All too often, hate crimes go unreported and unpunished. That's why I introduced legislation to give these victims an anonymous and safe way to learn more about hate crimes and get the resources and assistance they need. This is simply common sense and would provide better information so law enforcement officials and communities can combat these heinous acts."

David Kilmnick, Chief Executive Officer at Long Island Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Services Network, said, "Sadly, there are too many Long Islanders who have been the target of hate crimes. As someone who works specifically with the LGBT community, I've seen firsthand the effects a hate crime can have on an individual. Many of these victims are either ashamed or scared to provide information about the crime, which is why Rep. Israel's legislation to create an anonymous hotline to provide information on these crimes is so critical."

The National Hate Crimes Hotline Act would increase reporting of hate crimes and better inform the data used to develop thoughtful policies to prevent these atrocities. The bill would establish a national, toll-free telephone service and secure website where victims of hate crimes can find counseling, mental health and physical health services in their area. It would also provide grants to state and local law enforcement for educational and training programs on solving hate crimes and establish dialogues with community partners. Finally, it would create a grant program for community-based non-profits and faith-based organizations to provide services for victims of hate crimes in areas that currently lack resources.

It is modeled after the successful National Domestic Violence Hotline, a 24-hour, confidential, toll-free hotline created through the Violence Against Women Act. Since the creation of the Hotline, there has been a 51 percent increase in the reporting of domestic violence.

In 2015, 14,997 law enforcement agencies participated in the Hate Crime Statistics Program. Of these departments, 1,742 reported 5,850 hate crime incidents involving 6,885 offenses. This represents a 6% increase in the incidence of hate crimes over last year.