WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on a Senate hearing on religious hate crimes (all times local):
A police chief says a lack of solid data on hate crimes is one of the greatest barriers to fighting the problem.
Will Johnson, the police chief in Arlington, Texas, told lawmakers that both law enforcement agencies and victims need better training and education on the importance of collecting and reporting hate crime figures.
Johnson spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on religious hate crimes. He says more agencies need to provide their crime data to the FBI, which keeps figures that are undercount because reporting is voluntary.
Johnson also says law enforcement officials struggle with when to classify an offense as a hate crime because motive can be tricky to prove. And building relationships among officers and communities can help improve information-sharing.
A Justice Department official says better data on religious hate crimes is needed to fully address the problem.
Eric Treene, the department's Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination, told lawmakers Tuesday that discrepancies exist in data collected by different agencies. He says FBI numbers are an undercount because reporting is voluntary and not all law enforcement agencies submit figures to the bureau.
Still, Treene says numbers are not needed to fight the obvious problem. Treene was speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the department's response to a recent rise in religious hate crimes.
Treene says an internal committee is discussing all aspects of the problem, including ways to better track it. He says a June "summit" on the issue will involve local law enforcement and religious leaders.
Civil rights and law enforcement leaders are planning to tell lawmakers about a spike in religious hate crimes in the U.S.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday will also hear from a Justice Department official on ways to address the problem. One of the groups set to testify is the Anti-Defamation League, which released a report last week that found an increase in cases of anti-Semitic intimidation and vandalism last year.
The hearing comes after this year's wave of more than 150 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and day schools. Authorities arrested an Israeli Jewish hacker who they said was behind the harassment.
Eric Treene of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division says data also shows a recent rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes.