Police meet with local LGBT community, discuss hate crime rumors - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Police meet with local LGBT community, discuss hate crime rumors

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Is Phoenix seeing an increase in hate crimes? Police say the numbers don't suggest it, but members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are so worried they attended a public meeting Tuesday night.

A lot of the attendees at the meeting were concerned. They've been hearing rumors of attacks on members of the LGBT community, and as we saw last month, not all of these incidents are purely rumor.

"Unusually enough, I've been hearing about all of these different incidents," said Steve Brittle. He said he wanted to come to Tuesday's meeting to find out if anyone out there is targeting members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

"I am concerned because of what I'm hearing, that there is a hate crime thing going on out there," he said.

Members of the Phoenix Police Department, some LGBT support groups and the anti-defamation league were there. They talked about the difference between just a crime and a hate crime.

"Whenever there's a hate crime against a certain group, it ripples throughout that entire community," said Jason Meyers from One Voice Community Center. He is talking about an incident last month when a man says he and a friend were attacked walking home from a bar in central Phoenix. At the time, the victims told us they believed they were targeted because they're gay.

"Members of our community need to be especially careful," Meyers said.

But Phoenix police say there is no spike in hate crime in Phoenix, just a perception that there's one.

"Sometimes affects the perception of safety which oftentimes can be just as important," said Commander Glen Gardner with Phoenix police.

So they hope to not only quash the rumors, but also build trust with the community, so if there is a problem, they have no problem reporting it.

"Some of the high profile cases do bring the issue to the forefront," Gardner said.

Police also told attendees that crime is always on the increase this time of year, so they told them to be vigilant, walk in groups and report any suspicious activity.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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