DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Across the country, a number of law enforcement agencies are not reporting hate crimes to the FBI.
Photo courtesy MGN.
In a 30-minute documentary on TV6, our partners at Investigate TV found 65 cases of hate crimes not reported by local law enforcement to the FBI nationwide. Two of those cases are from Eastern Iowa.
In data obtained by TV6, weekend anchor and reporter Chris Carter found two hate crimes reported from cities in the Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois region between 2014 and 2017, but we know there are more because two crimes classified as hate crimes were not listed.
The first was a 2016 Dubuque incident when a burning cross was found at a city intersection. While the mayor and police called it a hate crime, FBI data does not list any hate crimes for 2016. One year before that, Randy Metcalf, a white Dubuque man was charged and eventually sentenced in what prosecutors called a “racially targeted attack.” That case does not appear in the hate crime report from the FBI. The Dubuque Police Dept. said it added the hate crime category later into the investigation, but could not explain why it was never reported to the FBI, instead, saying they report all crimes to the Iowa Dept. of Public Safety every month.
"If the info being generated, obtained is faulty, what does it matter,” Cynthia Deitle, a former FBI agent who now works with the Matthew Shepard Foundation said. “Now you're just relying on bad data which is super unhelpful."
In another situation in Burlington, a gender-fluid 16-year-old was sexually assaulted and tortured before being shot to death. Kedaire Johnson’s murder was not reported to the FBI as a hate crime even though a federal prosecutor was brought in to work the case as a hate crime. The new Des Moines County prosecutor, who did not prosecute the case, said they didn’t add hate crime charges because it would have “done nothing for the case”. The prosecutor said prosecuting the two men who killed Johnson for first-degree murder carried a tougher penalty.
While carrying out justice for such crimes is important, Rev. Rich Hendricks, who founded One Human Family, an advocacy group designed to raise awareness of hate crimes, said reporting of such cases is also vital to solving the problem.
“It is a totally underreported problem," he said.
Hendricks and One Human Family meet month to discuss issues and how they can make a change through community organization.
"This is happening under our noses and if we don't stand up for one another, stand up for someone who happens to be little different than we are going to enter a very different and dangerous world,” he said.
According to state law, both Iowa and Illinois are required to report hate crimes. After digging into 2017 data, TV6 found less than half of the agencies in each state reported hate crimes.