The City of Austin is a diverse and multicultural city. As such, we believe that diversity must be protected in every way, including preventing and responding to hate crimes and hate incidents.
- What is a hate crime?
- What is a hate incident?
- How do I report a hate crime or incident?
- What happens when I make a report?
- What happens after a report is generated?
- Who is part of the APD Hate Crimes Review Committee?
- Where does the report go after review by the APD Hate Crimes Committee?
- Where can I get support?
A hate crime is a criminal act committed against a person or person’s property that is motivated by bias against a person’s or group’s race, color, disability, religion, national origin or ancestry, age, gender, sexual preference, gender identity and expression, or status as a peace officer or judge.
It is important to note that Texas does not have a separate hate crime offense. Instead, the Texas Hate Crimes Act allows for the enhancement of the punishment for certain crimes. Examples of crimes eligible for punishment enhancement under the Texas Hate Crimes Act include murder, assault, sexual assault, terroristic threat, arson, criminal mischief, and graffiti. See Tex. Code of Crim. Proc. Art. 42.014
A hate incident is similar to a hate crime in that the act is motivated by bias. The difference between a hate incident and a hate crime is that a hate incident may not rise to the level of a criminal act.
Many offensive and provocative actions are not criminal and may be protected by the First Amendment. For example, if someone handed out fliers with offensive language directed at a group of people due to that group’s race or religion, that act is considered a hate incident (rather than a crime) because there is no criminal activity involved.
How do I report a hate crime or incident?
If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
If you are not in immediate danger, you may utilize the following non-emergency options:
- Create and submit your report directly to the Police Department using iReport.
- Call 3-1-1 to make a police report.
It is always important to file a police report with the Police Department and provide as much information as possible as this will assist in finding and arresting a suspect in a crime, adding serial numbers to statewide databases to recover stolen property, tracking criminal activity in various areas to prevent future crimes, among others.
If you are unsure if you should file a report, have questions, comments, concerns, or are looking for an update on a case, you can email APDHateCrimes@austintexas.gov.
What happens when I make a report?
- If you call 9-1-1, an officer will be sent to the location provided. The officer will gather details and generate a police report.
- If you choose to utilize iReport online, you will fill out the details on your own. A report will be generated and sent directly to the Police Department.
- If utilizing 3-1-1 non-emergency, you will be provided a customer service report number. Your report will be entered into a queue and the next available APD call taker will call you back to gather information and generate a police report. The wait time varies based on call load, but can take several weeks.
What happens after a report is generated?
After the initial reporting process has been completed, the report is flagged as a possible hate crime and routed to the appropriate investigative unit. APD has a Hate Crimes Review Committee that meets monthly to review all cases where the victim may have been targeted due to hate or bias. The Hate Crimes Review Committee reviews each case to first determine that a criminal offense occurred and then to review the details of hate or bias motivation.
If you send an email to APDHateCrimes@austintexas.gov, your email will be reviewed and, depending on the information provided, you will receive a response with guidance on next steps. Emails are reviewed Monday thru Friday during normal business hours.
Who is part of the APD Hate Crimes Review Committee?
The Hate Crimes Review Committee consists of Law Enforcement, Victim Services, and representatives from APD Central Records.
Where does the report go after review by the APD Hate Crimes Committee?
If the APD Hate Crimes Review Committee determines that a crime was committed and it was due to hate, the assigned investigator will staff the case with the appropriate prosecuting agency.
The prosecuting agency then decides whether to pursue a hate crime enhancement to the offense. For most offenses, this elevates the potential punishment by one degree. For example, if the defendant committed a Class B misdemeanor level graffiti offense, and a court finds that it was a hate crime, then the defendant will be punished for a Class A level misdemeanor graffiti offense. See Tex. Pen. Code § 12.47.
The Austin Police Department Victim Services Division can provide an array of support and resources.
Contact 512-974-5037 or email Victim.Services@austintexas.gov
You can also visit the Austin/Travis County Hate Crimes Task Force Resource page for more resources.