(Shelby County, TN) A new study on hate crimes comes to a troubling conclusion.
The study, conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, shows one in four hate crimes reported statewide and almost half of the assault hate crime cases happened in Shelby County last year.
Hate crimes are motivated by race, sex, or prejudice.
WREG asked Shelby County Public Affairs Officer Chip Washington if the numbers were troubling.
“I think one is alarming to me, as it should be to anyone else,” said Washington.
Washington admits there is a problem in Shelby County, but couldn’t say why the numbers were so high.
He said hate crimes are hard to patrol and stop, because it’s hard to read people’s minds.
“To say we don’t have a hate crime problem, not only here but around the country, is a foolish statement to make,” said Washington.
The TBI said the numbers are unusually high for Shelby County.
A spokesperson said he didn’t know if it is due to an explosion of crimes or an issue with how the sheriff’s office reports the numbers. He said it could be even a software glitch.
“As to say we are higher or lower than anyone else [in the state], I can’t speicifally say,” said Washington.
But what he can say is that overall, crime is down 12 percent in the county.
The numbers do not include the 34 hate crimes Memphis police reported.
A spokesperson gave this statement: “One reason might be that Memphis is the largest city in the state. We do not have a unit that specifically handles only “hate crimes,” but we do take these cases seriously and investigate them thoroughly.”