State Sen. Brian Foley is demanding to know why the Division of Criminal Justice Services failed to regularly compile and report accurate hate crime data as required by the state's own Hate Crimes Act of 2000.
In a letter sent Wednesday to the division's acting commissioner, Sean Byrne, a Blue Point Democrat, called the failure "alarming" and asked what action is being taken to identify those responsible and correct the problem.
Foley's letter came a day after Newsday detailed the noncompliance with the act's requirement to "collect and analyze statistical and all other information and data" on hate crime incidents, arrests and prosecutions.
The work, which depends on information police departments and the state court system generate, is supposed to be compiled in an annual report to the legislature and governor. The job was done in 2001 and 2002. When officials went to produce a report for 2008, the available data was found to be so full of errors that the prior reports were pulled from the division's website.
Byrne said prior administrations "neglected to submit a hate crime report for several years." Neither the division commissioner during that time nor the research director responsible for producing the report now work at the division, Byrne wrote.
Two years ago, he wrote, the current administration learned of the lapse and of problems with the quality of arrest data police departments had provided.
"An immediate and extensive audit was conducted and a 2008 annual report was compiled and submitted to the Governor and Legislature as required by law," Byrne wrote.
Sen. Eric Schneiderman, a Manhattan Democrat who chairs the Codes Committee that oversees justice policy and DCJS, said Wednesday his office was working with the division to ensure compliance. "We must do everything in our power to protect New Yorkers from violence based on how they look, who they love or where they pray," he said.