Hate Crimes: Current Laws and Policy Recommendations

News Release: 
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What is a hate crime in Seattle?

Maliciously or intentionally causing physical injury to a victim or another person, causing physical damage, to or destruction of the property of the victim or another person or threatening a specific person or group of persons and placing that person, or members of the specific group of persons, in reasonable fear of harm to person or property because of his or her perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, political ideology, age, parental status, mental, physical or sensory handicap.

Federal Laws

  • Congress passed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act in 1990.
  • The Act mandated the collection of information regarding crimes motivated by bias against race, religion, sexual orientation and/or ethnicity/ national origin.

Federal Laws

  • The Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 amended the Hate Crime Statistics Act to include bias against disabilities.
  • The Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996 indefinitely extended the mandate of the Hate Crime Statistics Act.

Federal Reporting

  • The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program developed a hate crime data collection system.
  • The FBI doesn’t view hate crimes as separate distinct crimes but rather traditional offenses motivated by the offender’s bias.

FBI Hate Crime Incident Report

Offense Categories

Federal Hate Crime Incident Report

Bias Motivation

State Laws

  • WA State legislature directed every law enforcement agency within Washington to report hate bias offenses to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC).
  • Disability and gender were added for our state to comply with the WA Anti-Harassment Act.*

* Source: RCW 9A.36.080

State Reporting

  • According WASPC Disability and gender statistics are not forwarded to the FBI.
  • All local law enforcement agencies shall report monthly to the association any crimes of bigotry or bias.*
  • The WASPC must summarize the information and file an annual report with the governor and senate law and justice committee and the house of representatives judiciary committee.*

* Source: RCW 36.28A. 030

WA Hate Crime Trend 1995-2003

State training guidelines

  • The criminal justice training commission shall provide training for law enforcement officers in identifying, responding to and reporting all violations of bigotry or bias.*

*Source: RCW 43.101.290

City of Seattle Ordinance

  • The city passed an ordinance in 2000 to include gender identity, marital status, political ideology, age or parental status under their malicious harassment laws.*

Ordinance 120132 Section 1, 2000

Hate Crimes in Seattle As reported by the Seattle Police Department to WASPC

Seattle Police Department Bias Crimes Coordinator

  • Coordinates the Department’s efforts against hate crimes by handling directly or coordinating the follow-up investigation on all malicious harassment cases.
  • The unit compiles and reports on all hate crimes as required by state and federal statues and provide training and information on hate crimes to department staff, other law enforcement agencies and the general public

Policy Recommendations

  • Request Seattle Police Department to report hate crimes bases on gender, gender identity, marital status, political ideology, age, or parental status to parallel the malicious harassment ordinance.

Policy Recommendations

  • Request increased outreach to affected groups regarding resources and reporting.
  • The LGBT community has experienced the largest amount of hate crimes.

Policy Recommendations

  • Inquire about training to police officers in determining whether a offense is a hate crime.


  • Seattle Police Department Bias Crimes Coordinator:

Officer Christie Lynn Bonner, 206-233-3898

  • WA Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs:


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