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Police Department

Reporting a Hate Crime in Nashville

The Importance of Reporting Hate Crimes

For the police to respond effectively to any crime, they must be notified immediately via 911 so that any injuries can be treated, witnesses can be interviewed, and evidence can be collected and preserved to increase the chance that the suspect(s) will be arrested.

Unfortunately, victims of bias-motivated crimes are often fearful to report for a variety of reasons. This can lead to significant under-reporting and inaccurate statistics. It also allows the suspects who committed these crimes to continue their behavior with other victims. The Metro Nashville Police Department wants victims of hate crimes to feel comfortable reporting these incidents to the police.

Ways to Report

  • 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 615-862-8600.

When is an Incident Considered a Hate Crime?

A person is guilty of a hate crime if they commit any of the following acts because of the victims protected status:

  • Causes physical injury to the victim or another person
  • Causes physical damage to or destroys the property of the victim or another person
  • Makes threats that causes a person or group to have reasonable fear of harm to their person or property

Even if the victim does not belong to a certain protected status, if they were selected because they were perceived to be of that status, this is still considered a hate crime.

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 - either a Hate Crime or any other type of crime - there is often not much enforcement action police can take. The Metro Nashville 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.