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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – As hate crimes rise across the country, the FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Indianapolis Division said he would welcome a hate crime law in Indiana and wants to reassure Hoosiers the agency is watching the climate very closely.

Indiana is one of only five states in the entire country without a hate crime law.

According to an FBI report released Tuesday, in 2017, hate crimes increased about 17 percent compared to the previous year.

However, the number of reported incidents in Indiana dropped for the same time period.

The question is whether the lack of a hate crime law is affecting how law enforcement agencies report data to the FBI.

FBI Special Agent In Charge Grant Mendenhall believes that is possible.

“The fact that it’s not defined in the state code cold be significant in the way state and local report it to the FBI,” he said.

There is a push for Indiana lawmakers to pass hate crime legislation. Even Governor Holcomb expressed his support for a law.

Mendenhall also believes it would be an important tool.

“As a collaborative team, we want as many tools in the tool box as we can possibly get,” he explained. “Some of those tools are statues that we can use to charge people. In the state system or federal system.”

In the meantime, Mendenhall wants all Hoosiers to know the federal agency is watching very closely.

“We’re paying very close attention to the climate in the country and to the concerns of the community we serve.”