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University Researchers Develop Hate Crime Reporting App

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Earlier this year, the Utah Legislature passed the state’s first hate crime law, and now an app has been created to help report forms of hate crime in Utah. It’s quickly gaining traction.

The app, called Hate Incident Reporting System, was built by students and developed by researchers in the geography department of the University of Utah. Geography professor Richard Medina said the idea is to better track hate incidents in the community, which are notoriously under-reported.

“There are a lot of verbal incidents of hate that people experience the police don’t can’t record as hate crimes,” he said. “There are a lot of things like graffiti that are hate-based, but they don’t get recorded as much.”

Now with the Hate Incident Reporting System app, people have a resource to report all forms of hate from wherever they are — and it’s 100% anonymous.

Forms of hate can include actions taken against people because of their disability, gender identity, race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, among others.

To report an incident in the app, the user taps “report incident,” chooses the location of the incident, uploads a photo if relevant, adds details, adds contact information if desired, and then hits “submit.”

The app has taken about a year to develop and the goal is to record hate-based incidents, assist law enforcement and make the community aware.

“We hope … this gives people a voice to be able to at least say, ‘This happened to me,'” Medina said. “Just by having an entry in this database, it will be recorded. We hope the community gets a better sense of what’s going on there.”

So far there have been nearly 70 downloads and about 50 reports of hate incidents. The hope is that as more people get word of the app, the more hate crimes will be reported.

Currently no law enforcement agency is using the app, but some are looking at it. It is currently only available on Android, but an IOS app is in the works.

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