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Either Kansas City, Kan., is the safest place to be a minority in the United States or hate crimes are vastly underreported there, the U.S. attorneyin Kansas told Topeka TV station KSNT.
Both Kansas City and Topeka recorded no hate crimes from 2012 to 2013, while Wichita reported 14 and Lawrence 10, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced at a hate-crimes symposium Wednesday. In attendance were the parents of Matthew Shepard, who was beaten to death for being gay in Wyoming in 1998.
Hate crimes are defined as crimes with an added element of bias against certain characteristics of the victim, including sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The most recent Kansas numbers were provided by the FBI, but Grissom told the station he was surprised to see the numbers for Kansas City and Topeka.
"They're reporting zero hate crimes," Grissom told the station. "That just doesn't fit with the profile."
"We don't really know if it's an anomaly because the keeping of statistics on hate crimes is actually something in law enforcement terms is only very recent," Grissom reportedly said.
Hate-crime reporting started in 1992, according to the FBI, but how to label crimes is determined by police, according to KSNT.
"The manual requires hate bias only if investigation reveals sufficient objective facts to lead a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender's actions were motivated, in whole or part, by bias," said Topeka Police Chief James Brown in a statement to KSNT News.
"The department is fully aware that some hate crimes occur within the city that are motivated by some bias, but without some facts to substantiate it we do not automatically label it as a 'hate crime,'" Brown said.
It seems therefore possible that residents may be reporting hate crimes that are not being investigated as such since police may use judgment to determine the nature of a crime.
Grissom told the station that the point of the symposium was to educate law enforcement on how to identify and report these types of crimes.
Watch the report from KSNT, below.