Defining hate crimes difficult for law officers

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Arkansas is among a minority of states without a hate crimes law. An effort to pass such a law in the recent legislative session failed.

Meanwhile, more police agencies are reporting incidents of hate crimes. In 2005, 66 police agencies in Arkansas reported 134 incidents involving evidence of crime against a person because of race, religion, ethnic origina, sexual orientation or disablity.

According to the FBI, only two agencies reported a total of three hate crimes in 2001. The problem is confusion about what exactly constitutes a hate crime.

North Little Rock Police Chief Danny Bradley, who is president of the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police, says police want to report such crimes but it is hard to say which crimes are motivated by hate toward a person because of that person's particular profile.

He says the determination can be so subjective.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)