Crimes of Bias or Hate

Guidelines for Reporting a Crime Believed to be Motivated by Bias or Hate

The St. Paul Police Department pledges to ensure that rights guaranteed by federal, state and local law are protected for all citizens regardless of their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability or religion. When such rights are infringed upon by violence, threats or other harassment, the St. Paul Police Department will be vigilant in its efforts to rapidly and decisively identify and apprehend the perpetrators.

All threats, including bias-related incidents, will be viewed as serious, and aggressively investigated. Moreover, your police department shall cooperate with other police agencies as required by law and in a manner consistent with the furthering of the objective of seeking justice for community members affected by these crimes. We understand such acts generate unnecessary fear in our community and concern among victims and result in loss of public confidence.

When is an Incident Considered a Hate Crime?

Hate crimes differ from other crimes in their effect on victims and on community stability:

  • Hate crimes are often especially brutal or injurious.

  • Victim(s) usually feel traumatized and terrified.

  • Families of victims often feel frustrated and powerless.

  • Others in the community who share the victim's characteristics may feel victimized and vulnerable creating community wide unrest.

  • Hate incidents can escalate and prompt retaliatory action.

Examples of hate crimes include, but are not limited to:

  • Interfering with, oppressing or threatening any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured by the constitution or laws because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim.

  • Defacing a person’s property because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim.

  • Terrorizing a person with a swastika or burning cross.

  • Vandalizing a place of worship.

When is an Incident Not Considered a Hate Crime?

  • If the suspect is in the process of committing another crime, and calls the victim a derogatory name, it does not automatically mean it is a hate crime.

  • If the suspect uses insulting or derogatory words but does not place another person in a reasonable fear of harm to their person or property, this is not a hate crime.

  • If the incident was a crime, but it was not believed to be motivated by your status, the police will still follow up on the crime to the full extent of the law. It just won't be charged as a hate crime.

  • If the incident is not found to be a crime - there is often not much enforcement action police can take. The St. Paul Police Department does keep detailed statistics on all bias incidents and we very much encourage the reporting of every incident of this type.

    If it is found that there is no directly enforceable action that can be taken by police, this does not mean what happened to you wasn't wrong. You sometimes have the option of bringing a civil cause of action against the suspect, which carries a lower burden of proof than criminal enforcement. The suspect may be liable to the victim for actual damages, punitive damages and reasonable attorney's fees and other incurred costs. You will need to contact a private attorney to start a civil action.

    Reporting a Hate Crime

    If the incident is happening now, or just happened, call 9-1-1 immediately. If the incident has already occurred, the immediate danger is over and there are no injuries, call the St. Paul Police Department's non-emergency number, (651) 291-1111.

    The immediate police response to a report of a hate crime will be handled like any call; however:

  • If you believe the incident was motivated by your status, ask the officer to make a note of that in the report. Please provide the reasons for your belief.

  • Do not remove any offensive material prior to calling police. If you must remove it prior to police arrival, document it with photographs and provide this evidence to the officer.

  • If you can, give the officer the exact wording of what was said, regardless of how offensive it is.

  • If there are witnesses to the incident, point them out to the officers at the scene.

If the case meets the criteria for a hate crime, your case will then be forwarded to an investigator in the district the incident occurred, or assigned to the Major Crimes Division for follow-up investigation.