Idaho's Uniform LGBT Hate Crime Reporting, Not So Uniform

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Idaho is not among 22 states reporting hate violence targeted toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program issued its annual report for 2009 last week.

Accurately quantifying anti-LGBT hate crime in Idaho is difficult in part because of a disconnect between federal, state and local reporting criteria. Additionally, LGBT people are less likely to report hate crime for fear of being outed or retribution, especially in conservative and rural areas. Human rights activists say there are also concerns about police harassment or indifference.

“Brutal attacks against actual or perceived LGBT people are hate crimes,” said activist Emilie Jackson-Edney. “But in the eyes of Idaho law, they're just another assault or battery.”

Boise Police Department’s Victim Witness Coordinator, Janet Lawler told Citydesk that, “Boise police have a real proactive malicious harassment policy which is inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

However, Lawler explained that while a misdemeanor battery that includes a racial slur would be elevated to a felony, the same is not true if a sexual orientation or gender identity slur is used.

Pennie Blamires of the Idaho State Police Uniform Crime Reporting Unit told Citydesk there are 107 Idaho law enforcement agencies that report data to her unit. Her division documents crime and submits it to the FBI. But the ISP report doesn’t record gender identity.

Lawler said in Boise,“maybe three to four cases were investigated over the last year because of sexual orientation.”

In a Law and Order edition of Catch 22, the federal government is required to track crime data on sexual orientation and gender Identity from the states, but they do not require states to track it.

Ironically, the front page of the 2009 Idaho Uniform Crime report motto reads: “You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure.”

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