State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office will audit the state Division of Criminal Justice Services’ hate crimes reporting system in response to concerns aired in a report from one lawmaker that some hate crimes are being missed.
DiNapoli’s office announced the audit Friday, acknowledging the inquiry grew out of an August request by state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat who took up the issue after a spate of anti-gay attacks — including one killing — in New York City.
Under a 2000 state law, crimes believed to have been motivated by race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation are classified as hate crimes and must be reported by police agencies to DCJS.
A spokesman for DiNapoli’s office, Mark Johnson, said the audit will look to identify any deficiencies in the way DCJS compiles that data — as well as training it offers departments for identifying and handling hate crimes.
“Sen. Hoylman had requested this in light of his report, and we believe it was good idea, so we’re pursuing it,” Johnson said. “But we don’t have any preconceived notions about what we will or won’t find.”
Hate crimes come with heightened punishments. And while testimony at a public hearing held by Hoylman did not question the reporting requirement, it cited the lack of an enforcement mechanism and urged DiNapoli to audit state and local law enforcement agencies to ensure they were reporting the crimes as required.
In addition, Hoylman’s report calls for hate crime training for cops to become mandatory and for the hate crimes law to be expanded to included gender expression.
Last month, DCJS reported a total of 720 hate crimes statewide in 2012 — a spike of 30 percent over 2011 fueled by reported increases in New York City and Suffolk County on Long Island. The increase in New York City was close to 55 percent.
Most of the crimes statewide involved criminal mischief, and the largest class of reported victims — about 26 percent — were targeted based on their sexual orientation, followed closely — 25 percent — by those targeted because they were black, DCJS said.
In a Nov. 20 letter to DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael Green, DiNapoli said the audit would begin next week.
In a statement, DCJS spokeswoman Janine Kava said her agency planned to meet with DiNapoli’s auditors on Dec. 11 and “will cooperate with the Comptroller’s Office as it moves forward with this audit.”
“We are confident that we have accurately reported information as it has been reported to us,” Kava said, adding that the agency had also taken steps beyond what the law required to improve data collection. The audit is expected to take at least several months.