WOODBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — U.S. Rep. Steve Israel on Tuesday introduced legislation to set up a national toll-free telephone service and a secure website to attend to victims of hate crimes.
The 24-hour hotline and website would provide information on counseling, physical health and mental health services in the callers’ areas, according to a news release.
The legislation would also set up programs to train local police departments on dealing with hate crime victims, and support agencies that provide services to the victims.
In proposing the legislation, Israel told 1010 WINS he is concerned about a reported 30 percent increase in New York state between 2011 and 2012.
“We need to make it easier for victims of hate crimes to report them to the police,” the Long Island Republican said.
Israel said his proposed hotline would be the first national support network for hate crime victims funded by the government.
“There’s no real integrated support network that the government has to assist victims of hate crimes, and that’s why we need to have this one comprehensive platform,” he said.
The congressman said the hate crime hotline would be based on the successful model of the federal Domestic Violence Hotline.
“The federal Domestic Violence Hotline led to a 50 percent increase in the number of domestic violence incidents that were reported,” Israel said. “There were 6,000 hate crimes back in 2012 that were reported. There are many, many additional hate crime incidents that are not reported, and that’s why providing this hotline, as we do with domestic violence, so much sense,” Israel said.
Hate crime statistics from the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division indicated that 1,730 law enforcement officers reported 5,796 hate crime incidents involving 6,718 offenses, 7,164 victims, and 5,331 offenders, Israel’s office said.
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