By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY Hate crimes in New York grew 30 percent between 2011 and 2012, to a total of 702 incidents last year, state records show.
The increase was largely in New York City and Long Island. Incidents were up 54 percent in the city and up 18 percent in the rest of the state, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
New York City reported 374 hate-crime incidents and 148 arrests. The rest of the state reported 331 incidents and 138 arrests - with about one-third of those in Suffolk County, the state reported this month.
There were few hate-crime incidents in 2012 outside the state's largest counties. Nassau County was second in incidents with 117, followed by 49 in Erie County and 21 in Westchester County.
Those three counties, along with Suffolk, accounted for 75 percent of the hate crimes outside New York City.
Dutchess County had nine incidents, while Monroe County had six, yet had 11 arrests. Rockland had six incidents and nine arrests. And Tompkins County had six incidents and two arrests; there were none in Tompkins in 2011.
The most frequent hate crimes were against individuals for their sexual orientation, representing 26 percent of the total, the state statistics show. That was followed by 25 percent of the incidents that were anti-black and 22 percent that were anti-Jewish.
"Despite recent gains in the struggle for LGBT equality, we continue to see heinous crimes committed against members of our community," said Nathan Schaefer, executive director for the Empire State Pride Agenda.
He said the state Legislature could help by passing the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and increase aid for the Dignity for All Students Act, which was implemented in 2010 and aims to limit bullying in schools.
The state said hate crimes against property increased 48 percent in 2012, while hate crimes against people increased 12 percent.
Nearly 65 percent of hate crimes against property were anti-Jewish.
"For us, it's a reminder that although New York is a diverse state, we're still not immune to anti-Semitism and all forms of hate," said Evan Bernstein, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched an investigation Friday into allegations of anti-Semitism against students in the Pine Bush School District in Orange County.
Bernstein said that a positive results is that communities usually express outrage to hate crimes.
"We see an overwhelming community response from New Yorkers that are willing to stand up and say that our state is not accepting of anti-Semitism and hate," he said, and added: "We still have to do better job of educating and preventing these things from happening."
Most of the hate crimes were either criminal mischief or simple assault, the state said.
Of the 286 arrests in 2012, 201 have had dispositions - with 140 of them leading to convictions, mainly through plea deals, the state said. The remainder were mostly dismissed.
Some areas of the state saw a decline in hate-crime incidents between 2011 and 2012, the records showed. Twelve counties had no hate crimes or arrests in 2012, including in Chemung, Greene, Livingston, Schuyler, Tioga and Yates.
The number of incidents dropped from 10 to 6 in Rockland County between the two years and from 41 to 21 in Westchester. In Yonkers, the number incidents declined from 19 in 2011 to 3 last year.
The city of Rochester had 10 hate-crime incidents in 2010, three in 2011 and one last year. Monroe County overall had six in 2012, compared to nine in 2011.
In 2009, hate crimes spiked in Broome County to 11 incidents, but there have been just two or three each year since.
The number of hate-crime incidents in Dutchess County dropped from 13 to 9 between 2011 and 2012, including going from six to one in the city of Poughkeepsie.
Poughkeepsie Detective Sgt. Matt Clark said he's pleased with the decline. He said it can be difficult to arrest people on hate crimes, particularly if it's offensive graffiti.
"Obviously any time you have a reduction in hate crimes, that's good for everybody," Clark said.