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Study: Minnesota agencies report few hate crimes

MINNEAPOLIS — A newspaper examination of last year’s hate crime reports in Minnesota found several high profile incidents missing.

The Star Tribune’s study found no mention of last summer’s Bloomington mosque bombing.

Bloomington police didn’t count the Dar Al-Farooq explosion because the case is being handled by the FBI, said Bloomington Deputy Police Chief Mike Hartley.

Minnesota requires its law enforcement agencies to report to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension crimes that are believed to be motivated by the victim’s “race, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability or characteristics identified as sexual orientation.” The bureau then sends that information to the FBI.

A November FBI report found that nearly two-thirds of the state’s law enforcement agencies reported no hate crimes in their jurisdictions in 2016. Rochester and Duluth were among the cities reporting zero hate crimes, while Bloomington police said they’ve only had two bias incidents in the past decade.

“I find it difficult to believe that in any community there is zero hate,” said Cynthia Deitle, program director for the Matthew Shepard Foundation, an LGBT nonprofit organization. She is also a former chief of the FBI’s civil rights unit. “We just don’t know where the breakdown is.”

Victims, advocates and federal officials said inconsistency about what constitutes a hate crime and a general unwillingness among many victims to report such crimes may be contributing to the lack of reports.

Having accurate records can help law enforcement better advocate for preventative resources and prosecute hate crimes, said U.S. Attorney Greg Brooker.

Twin Cities officials and nonprofits are working to provide additional resources and outlets for reporting hate crimes. The city of Minneapolis started a hot line last year for reporting hate crimes.