The Department of Justice will hold a summit on violent crime next month, including one to specifically focus on hate crimes.
Eric Treene, the special counsel to the DOJ's civil rights division on religious discrimination, told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that agency's task force on crime reduction and public safety will hold a summit on violent crime in the third week of June.
The following week, the Hate Crimes Subcommittee will hold a one day summit to focus on "identifying, prosecuting and preventing hate crimes."
Treene told the Senate committee that hate crimes make up roughly four percent of all violent crime in the United States. The DOJ and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have made fighting violent crime a top priority.
"Religious hate crimes is the second highest hate crime category," Treene said, adding that religion-based hate crimes are the first.
"We must do better at reducing these deplorable hate crimes," he explained. "We can fully address the problem of hate crimes only when we fully understand it."
Treene also lamented that hate crime statistics are only collected through voluntary reporting by state and local law enforcement agencies.
"The Bureau of Justice Statistics polls households each year to try to estimate how many people were victims of crime in the prior year, whether reported to the police or not. Based on this polling, the incidence of hate crimes may be greater than those crimes capture," he said.
The nonpartisan Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University found hate crimes in nine U.S. metropolitan areas rose more than 20 percent from 2015 to 2016.