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Suffolk police: Hate crimes labeled based on state law

Following the stabbing death of an immigrant in Patchogue and allegations Suffolk police mishandle hate crime cases, the department is pointing out there are very strict guidelines for determining whether

News 12 Staff

Nov 27, 2008, 12:29 AM

Updated 5,715 days ago

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Following the stabbing death of an immigrant in Patchogue and allegations Suffolk police mishandle hate crime cases, the department is pointing out there are very strict guidelines for determining whether a crime can be called a hate crime.
Suffolk police say no matter how distasteful or disgusting a crime is, they cannot call it a hate crime unless it fits the specifics addressed in the New York State hate crime legislation enacted in 2000.
?I can't charge someone with a hate crime based on public opinion,? Detective Sgt. Robert Reecks, of the Suffolk County Police Department, says. ?That's not what the state law says.?
The law covers a slew of hate crime categories including crimes based on race, religion, sexual orientation and mental and physical disabilities.
?Criminal law applies to every county in the state,? Touro law professor Richard Klein says. ?But certainly DAs and police departments have their own emphases and can choose to move something along or ignore something.?
Suffolk police say swastikas, cross burnings and as of Nov. 1 , nooses involved in crimes automatically are classified as hate crimes unless proven otherwise. Reecks says the department is not hiding or covering anything up.
After the death of Marcelo Lucero, Fernando Mateo, of Hispanics Across America, has accused officers of re-working police reports to downplay the instances of bias crimes. Another Hispanic advocacy group, Latino Justice, has filed a complaint to the U.S. Justice Department alleging Suffolk officials discourage Latinos from reporting crimes.


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