Vera launched a study to develop and validate a Bias Crime Assessment Tool (BCAT) that can be used by schools, law enforcement, and community organizations to improve victim identification among various under-reporting Latino, immigrant, youth and LGBT communities. The Vera study of hate crime and bias victimization, funded by the National Institute of Justice, will develop a sensitive and practical tool that can be used by law enforcement, community groups, and educational institutions to better respond to these kinds of crime, to improve bias crime victim identification, and help reduce barriers to reporting for victims. The study is being conducted in partnership with organizations in Los Angeles County, California and the State of New Jersey. Vera will collect information from bias crime and community experts, students, and other youth and adult members of under-identified Latino, immigrant, and LGBT communities through focus groups, interviews, and surveys. The resulting tool, available by the end of 2017, will help to better identify bias crime victims; improve data reporting, education, and institutional responses; reduce reporting barriers for victims; and foster more effective service provision.

Why Hate Crime Matters in the Criminal Justice System and in Affected Communities

Currently, far too many jurisdictions do not have adequate resources to identify and respond to bias crimes. But hate crime targets entire groups and communities, and effective law enforcement response requires training and tools to accurately identify cases. Research shows that in some communities, people are less likely to report bias crimes. To improve reporting and services that can reach those communities, we are focusing on a few key groups: immigrants, Latinos and LGBT individuals.