The FBI released its 2021 hate crime tally on Monday, but the report falls far short of an accurate national snapshot: It excludes data from a slew of law enforcement agencies, including Los Angeles. and New York.
The FBI’s annual hate crime statistics roundup was based on data from 65% of the nation’s roughly 18,800 law enforcement agencies, up from 93% in 2020.
Even so, the annual report documented 7,262 criminal incidents motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation or other factors in 2021 – less than 8,263 in 2020, but high given the decline in the participation of agencies.
Associate agent. Gen. Vanita Gupta attributed the drop in data from metro areas and key states to a change in technology: The federal agency recently switched to a different system for law enforcement to report crime data as part of National Incident Reporting System (NIBRS) and Agencies. who had not yet transitioned were unable to submit hate crime statistics to the FBI.
“The Department of Justice continues to work with law enforcement nationwide to increase reporting of hate crime statistics to the FBI to ensure we have the data necessary to accurately identify and prevent crimes. hate,” Gupta said in a statement.
The absence of a third of law enforcement — including some of the nation’s largest cities — makes it difficult for criminologists, policymakers and historians to draw meaningful conclusions about national hate crime trends.
In California, only 15 of 740 law enforcement agencies submitted 2021 data to the FBI through the new data system. That means only 73 hate crime incidents have been tallied in the state by the FBI for California — well below the 1,339 documented by the FBI in 2020.
Participation was even lower in Florida: only two of the 757 law enforcement agencies in that state submitted data through the new portal and only one hate crime was reported.
Some experts said the FBI report should never have been released.
“It’s an incomplete and seriously flawed paper that fails to capture the fundamentals that criminologists want to know,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hatred and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino. , who urged the FBI to change the report. “You can’t leave out almost all of California and Florida!”
Levin said the FBI statistics were particularly disappointing because they did not reflect what he believed to be a significant national increase in hate crimes. If only New York and California’s figures for 2021 were added to the mix, the national totals would top 9,000 for only the second time since the FBI began collecting hate crime data in 1991.
Levin, who compiles his own hate crimes database from Freedom of Information Act requests and agency websites, noted that much of the information was not hard to come by. In June, the California Attorney General’s office announced an increase of 1,763 hate crimes in 2021.
The precipitous decline in the number of participating agencies — many of which are among the most trusted and trusted agencies — made the FBI report “unintentionally misleading” in documenting general trends, Levin said. It also did not accurately represent increases in reported attacks against particular groups, such as Asians and Jews.
Earlier this year, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism released a report that showed a 20% increase in hate crimes in 2021, with a 224% increase in anti-Asian crimes.
“We’re looking at a banner year for anti-Asian hate crimes,” Levin said. “We counted more anti-Asian hate crimes in just 21 cities than the FBI counted nationally.”
While the FBI showed a reduction in hate crimes against Jews, he said, research by his own group found a significant increase.
The FBI is required by federal law to collect hate crime data from federal, state, local, tribal, and university law enforcement agencies under the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. But participation is only mandatory for federal law enforcement.
Summarizing data from 2021, the FBI said 65% of victims were targeted because of the offenders’ bias against their race, ethnicity or ancestry, 16% because of sexual orientation, 13% because of religion and 4% because to gender identity.
The FBI also noted that more agencies are using NIBRS in 2022.
“As more agencies transition to collecting NIBRS data with the continued support of the Department of Justice, hate crime statistics in the coming years will provide a richer and more complete picture of crimes of hatred nationwide,” the agency said in a statement.
Some civil rights groups have condemned law enforcement’s inability to provide local information through the NIBRS system.
“The failure of thousands of police departments across the country to participate in this report is devastating to the individuals and communities harmed by these crimes and to our ability to understand and prevent them,” said Margaret Huang, President and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement.
Until required by law law enforcement agencies to report hate crimes, Huang said, federal funds to agencies should be conditioned on thorough reporting of hate crimes or meaningful community prevention of hate crimes.
“We can and must do better,” Huang said.
Orlando Martinez, the hate crimes coordinator for the Los Angeles Police Department, said his agency is working on installing the NIBRS system, but does not yet have the program in place. Still, he pointed out that his agency wasn’t holding anything back: It had submitted hate crime statistics through an online portal to the California Department of Justice.
In 2021, Martinez said, the LAPD reported 616 hate crime incidents, up significantly from 359 in 2020.
“Even though we’re not in the computer database that everyone is looking at, they have our stats,” Martinez said. “It’s just not in that format.”
Just last week, a report released by the County Commission on Human Relations found that hate crimes in 2021 increased 20% in Los Angeles County in 2020, reaching their highest level in 20 years. Racially motivated crimes jumped 17%, according to the report, with black people disproportionately targeted and accounting for nearly half of racial hate crime victims.
One of the main reasons for this spike is that Los Angeles County has made it easier to report hate crimes in recent years. In 2020, officials launched the LA vs. Hate program, which includes a “Report Hate” hotline to report “acts of verbal or physical aggression, denial of service, bullying or intimidation of any nature motivated by hostile prejudices”.
Civil rights advocates have long complained that the FBI’s numbers are understated. According to them, local police forces are not sufficiently trained to identify hate crimes and often do not have enough motivation or resources to investigate hate crime allegations. Another challenge is that victims of hate crimes do not always report to the police.
“Data doesn’t have to be perfect,” Levin said. “But when it’s that incomplete, it becomes a hindrance, because the average American will look at it and say, ‘Oh, okay, hate crimes are down.
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