FBI Report: Hate Crimes Rising


US Hate Crimes Rise for Second Straight Year –  Reuters

“There were 6,121 hate crime incidents recorded last year, an almost 5 percent rise from 2015 and a 10 percent increase from 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Hate Crimes Statistics report said.” – Reuters

Since 1992, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been keeping statistics. Although many experts state these crimes are under-reported to the FBI, the increasing trend here is undeniable.

What is a Hate Crime?

The FBI defines a hate crime as a “crime in which the perpetrators acted based on a bias against the victim’s race, color, religion, or national origin.”  They also include “crimes committed against those based on biases of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or gender.”

These types of crime play out as “a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias.”

What Does This Mean for My Organization?

Targeting an individual or an organization based on their workplace, or targeting non-profit’s mission or an organization’s goals is a real and current danger.

What the FBI also points out is that individuals and groups that espouse hatred often find fertile places to plant the seeds of domestic terrorism.  Whether the hate crime is committed by a group or by a lone wolf, the incidents overall are rising.

Is Hate Really Against the Law?

Hate crimes include all true crime, just with the added bias that is either real, or perceived.  Of course, using the mail to do harm to an organization or individual is against the law.  So for mail security, whether a mail bomb is sent or just a hoax letter with white powder enclosed, these are crimes which can be motivated by hate.

In addition, federal law and most all state laws make it illegal to send threatening letters.

What is the difference between Threatening Letters and Hate Mail?

Threatening Letter: According the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), this is a letter “threatening a person’s reputation, blackmail or extortion through the mail.” This considered a federal crime.

Hate Mail: This is a letter containing usually negative, hostile and hurtful language targeting a person or group based on a bias. If the letter does not contain certain threats, then sometimes it is not considered a crime.

What is the danger?

While there is always the possibility of hate crime through mailing chemical threats, biological threats, radiological, nuclear and explosive/bomb threats — threatening letters are also illegal.

Organizations can easily be targeted for their beliefs or for the causes they champion. These can be political, religious or social. Locally or globally, the motivation for the hate crime is sometimes only based on a company having a well-known brand where the hate would make its biggest impact for notoriety.

Hate crimes motivated by hatred of a religion increased last year, with a rise in the number of crimes targeting Jews and Muslims.Wall Street Journal

These hateful and disturbed individuals and organizations are always looking to find ways to make their message known, while often the groups would like to also grow their membership.

What should we look for?

Again, for hate crimes the full spectrum of all possible mail threats should be mitigated. All causes for question or suspicion must be taken seriously.

Any of these items or a combination can indicate a dangerous package:
• Excessive postage
• Sealed with extra tape and material
• Restrictive markings like “Personal” or “Private”
• Lack of return address
• Lopsided or uneven package
• Strange odors, stains or leakage
• Badly typed or written addressing
• Misspelled words
• Return address from foreign country or does not match postmarking

Basic steps for Mailroom Safety include:

1. Provide training
2. Put a plan in writing
3. Install correct sensor equipment
4. Train employees
5. Run practice drills

If this is not possible, consider outsourcing mail screening to a third party or sending mail to a third party screening facility.

As always, I appreciate your comments.