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Advocacy groups and law enforcement officials pushing for better tracking of hate crimes


The most recent examples of hate crimes in Colorado, Colorado Public Radio reports, included carvings of swastikas on playground equipment in Longmont, which was preceded by two other reports of hate imagery in that area over the summer.

An apparent rise nationwide in these types of crimes is prompting advocacy groups across the country to push for better tracking of hate crimes.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, since Donald Trump was elected president, some police and advocacy groups have seen an increase in reports of attacks based on race, religion, gender and sexual orientation.

But the total number of hate crimes that take place each year is something the FBI can’t provide with certainty.

Every year, the FBI releases a report documenting the number of hate crimes from the year prior. The latest was released a couple of months ago and shows 5,850 hate crimes were committed in 2015, but law enforcement officials, including U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, believe that number falls well short of the actual number because so many go unreported.

At a speech she gave in early December at a Muslim center in Sterling, VA, Lynch also called for better data collection and reporting, as hate crimes in 2015 increased more than 6 percent compared to 2014.

The FBI defines a hate crime as a "criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity."

Some advocacy groups are taking the matter of tracking hate crimes into their own hands.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, started collecting reports of hate crimes, including those that fall outside of the FBI’s definition on Dec. 12, and based on information the center gathered from news reports, social media and website submissions, more than 1,000 such incidents have been reported since then.