(The Center Square) – Two Ohio state representatives want to create a new bureau of law enforcement to deal with what they say is an increase in hate crimes across the state.
Reps. Adam Miller, D-Columbus, and Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson, introduced a bill Tuesday that would create a Hate Crimes Bureau within the office of the attorney general.
“We have to send a clear message that in Ohio, there is no place for hate,” Miller said. “This bill calls on the Attorney General to create a Hate Crime Bureau to track hate crimes and to work with law enforcement across the state on enforcement and prevention efforts. No one should live in fear simply for who they are. This bill gives some of our most vulnerable citizens the protection they deserve.”
The bill would have the Hate Crime Bureau conduct independent investigations for hate crimes and help local, state and federal law enforcement groups. It obligates the attorney general to respond to every credible report and create a database of those reports.
It matches the definition of hate crime with the federal definition, which includes crimes committed on the basis of the victim’s perceived or actual race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.
More than 7,100 hate crimes were reported across the U.S. in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The FBI said 350 hate crimes were reported across Ohio in 2018, which was a slight decrease from 2017.
Of the nationwide total in 2019, 58% were based on race, ethnicity or ancestry; 20% were based on religion; and 17% on sexual orientation.
The Anti-Defamation League reported a 40-year high in anti-semitic incidents in Ohio in 2020, a 72% increase over 2019.
“As a Jewish legislator, I am keenly aware of the need for laws addressing hate crimes,” Weinstein said. “As the number of hateful incidents continues to rise, Ohio has the opportunity to lead. We can send a strong message of solidarity to at-risk communities by focusing resources not only on deterrence but prosecution of hate crimes.”
The bill has not been assigned a number and is waiting on a committee assignment.