Online database makes hate crime data publicly available in Lincoln

LINCOLN, NEB (KOLN) Investigations into hate crime laws in states around the country have discovered a lack of compliance with the rules.

In Nebraska, hate crime laws are on the books which ban the discrimination of someone based on "race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability," and collection of information pertaining to hate crimes is required to be collected.

That information is turned into the FBI, as well as the Nebraska Crime Commission, both of whom then compile the data and publicly release the information.

In Lincoln, hate crime information is also collected and then posted onto a city maintained website.

Jeff Bliemeister, chief of Lincoln Police, said it's important for people to know what is going on in Lincoln.

"We don't want to hide behind and pretend, 'Oh that doesn't happen in Lincoln, Nebraska' because unfortunately, it does," Bliemeister said. "Also, there should be an expectation that when those crimes happen, they are reported to us, we take them very seriously and investigate them very thoroughly."

Bliemeister said his officers follow strict policy when investigating suspected hate crimes.

He pointed out that data shows Lincoln as having a higher number of hate crime reports compared to cities of similar size, but attributed the discrepancy to the trust victims have in the department being able to do its job of investigating these crimes.

Bliemeister said when an officer responds to a suspected hate crime, whether or not it be investigated that way is determined by both victim and that officer.

"We've really taken the role, the preemptive role at LPD, if that there is any indication whatsoever, mark it, and it will receive all of those extended quality assurance and thoroughness measures both codified and in practice at the Lincoln Police Department," Bliemeister said.