Workshop teaches officers about hate crimes

Some Mid-South law officers are learning new skills to put an end to hate crimes in their communities.

The FBI says some 8,000 hate crimes occur in the United States every year.  Officers attending a conference in Southaven want to learn ways to bring the number of hate crimes down.

Workshop organizers started with a history of hate groups that have a history of violence in America.

"Let's not forget our history so we don't repeat our history," said workshop organizer Jeff Johnson.

Organizers say groups singled out in the class for their hate crime history include the KKK, Skin Heads, Black Separatists and many others.
A map from the Southern Poverty Law Center listed more than 700 hate groups in the country, including 22 in Mississippi, and three in Southaven.

"We've had no documented incidents we're investigating," said Southaven Police Chief Tom Long.  "What this is, we are preparing investigators to look at things from a different angle."

Officers learned the tattoos, ideologies and symbols of hate groups, and how to investigate crimes when someone is attacked because of racial, gender or sexual preferences.

They said hate crimes can range from graffiti to murder, and knowing what questions to ask when they arrive on the scene can make or break a successful prosecution.