published Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Hate crimes spike in Tennessee

ASSAULTS ON OFFICERS


Along with releasing its hate crime study, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation presented its annual study on assaults against law enforcement officers. Chattanooga was one of three Tennessee cities where a law enforcement officer was killed in 2011.

• Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin was killed on April 2, 2011, while he was responding to a robbery at a pawn shop on Brainerd Road.

• The Dickson County Sheriff's Office and Memphis Police Department each lost a law officer in 2011.

• Overall, assaults on officers were down 2.4 percent in 2011, with 1,810 assaults or killings reported in 2011 compared with 1,854 in 2010.

• The most frequently reported weapons used against officers were hands, fists and feet.

Source: 2011 Tennessee Law Enforcement Officers Killed or Assaulted study, TBI

After a steady decline, hate crimes in Tennessee spiked in 2011, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's analysis of state crime statistics.

"Bias motivated" offenses -- TBI's term for hate crimes -- jumped nearly 51 percent to 261 offenses reported in 2011, compared with 173 in 2010, according to the study.

"It's really difficult for us to pinpoint the 'why' when we're just looking at statistical data," said TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm about the increase. "It's too early to say what may have contributed to it. Sometimes it's just an anomaly."

Before 2011, a three-year analysis of hate offenses showed a decline every year between 2008 and 2010, Helm said.

The statistics have been compiled in the report "Tennessee Hate Crime 2011," which is based on required monthly reports from local law enforcement agencies statewide.

An offense is classified as a hate crime if law enforcement can show the perpetrator committed the crime because of a bias against race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability or other such traits.

"There has to be some sort of evidence attached with the crime," Helm said. "Marks left behind, or slurs being used."

The 2011 data shows that one in every three reported hate crimes were racially motivated. It also reveals that more than 50 percent of hate crime victims knew their offenders.

Intimidation was the most often reported crime against people.

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