The Bloomington Police Department is one of only two police agencies in Indiana which has agreed to work with more than 50 other law enforcement agencies in the United States to provide better access to open data on hate and bias crime, according to a release from the city of Bloomington.
St. John, Indiana, and Bloomington have both agreed to release and share hate crime data with the public to promote greater transparency and enhance accurate hate crime reporting.
“The Bloomington Police Department is pleased to be participating in this important data project along with other progressive police agencies that realize the importance of making information readily available to the communities they serve," BPD Chief Michael Diekhoff said in the press release. "Knowledge creates awareness that can lead to substantive change."
Hate crimes can often go unreported and, according to the release, this means they can be easily misunderstood. Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton said in the release that this new initiative by BPD was an effort to make "Bloomington more transparent and responsive" to those who experience the "ugliness of a hate crime."
Hamilton also mentioned the City's Open Data Portal, which is an open-access database where all types of city data can be found, including hate crime reports.
For example, in 2016 and 2017, there were 20 incidents of hate or bias crime which were reported and logged by BPD over the course of those years, 10 for each year.
The national initiative was put together by the Police Foundation, which is a national, non-profit organization founded in 1970. The Foundation is meant to improve policing work through science and innovation, according to their website.
"Hate crimes are often underreported and consequently not well documented," according to the release. "The City of Bloomington strongly encourages people to report hate crimes."
Hate or bias crime reports can be made to the Bloomington Police Department by calling 911, or to the Bloomington Human Rights Commission by calling 812-349-3429 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
People may also report incidents via the online form on the City’s website at bloomington.in.gov/departments/legal/human-rights.
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