CHICAGO — There have been 39 hate crimes in the first half of 2017, putting Chicago on pace to surpass its previous high of 73 in 2016.
From 2012 to June 2017, the Chicago Police Department has classified 362 crimes as hate crimes, according to data acquired through the Freedom of Information Act.
The Police Department has been keeping electronic records of hate crimes since 2012.
Experts have said hate crimes are traditionally underreported to authorities because there's a lack of understanding about what a "hate crime" actually is.
Under Illinois law, hate crimes are committed "by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin." Hate crimes are felonies that also allow victims to file civil lawsuits for damages.
In Chicago, a crime becomes a hate crime based on a determination from the Police Department or the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
Dealing with potential hate crimes is part of the curriculum for Police Department recruits, including law classes at the academy and attending a daylong "Law Enforcement and Democracy Initiative" event at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie.
All police detectives go through a two-hour course on investigating hate crimes, while sergeants and lieutenants are required to attend a session at the museum, where they learn about the role of police in Nazi Europe and "explore the challenges of balancing the rights of people with the protection of society as a whole."
Chicago police officers who find themselves dealing with a possible hate crime are told to notify their supervisors as well as the regular detectives unit and a separate set of detectives in the Civil Rights Unit, a specialized set of investigators.
This information will be updated periodically.