Police departments continued to report an increase in hate crimes despite lower participation rates

The FBI said on Monday that the number of US police departments reporting hate crimes dropped last year as it transitioned to a new crime reporting system, but participating agencies continued to report an overall increase in crimes. of hatred.

In its closely watched annual hate crimes report, the FBI said about 4,000 of the nation’s more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies reported no hate crimes last year, which reduced the police department’s participation rate in FBI data collection to nearly 65% ​​from 93% last year.

The FBI’s annual report is widely used as a broad measure of hate crimes in America. The sharp decline in the number of police departments reporting data to the agency makes it difficult to say whether hate crimes rose or fell last year, even though other data points to an overall upward trend.

When asked if the report made year-over-year comparisons of data unnecessary, an FBI official said, “Until we see increased law enforcement involvement and we recognize that this is a year of transition, that would be fine.”

The new FBI report shows there were 7,262 hate crime incidents in the United States in 2021. In comparison, 2020 saw 8,263 incidents.

But comparing the two figures is inaccurate because they are based on different data sets.

“When we see decades-old records being broken in major cities and many states, the fact that a third of the agencies are not participating in the FBI report at all means we just don’t have an official picture. accurate picture of what is really happening on a national level,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

Any increase in hate crimes has been “wiped out by a lack of participation,” Levin said.

The FBI said that despite a decline in police department participation in its new system, participating law enforcement agencies continued to report an overall increase in hate crimes.

“While the hate crime statistics reported to us are lower in 2021, the overall hate crime statistics are not decreasing, which means the agencies reporting to us are reporting an increase in hate crimes,” said an FBI official on a press call. before the publication of the report.

The FBI’s new crime-reporting system, called the National Incident-Based Reporting System, or NIBRS, offers more accurate detail and context about crime, which the bureau says will help police departments better tackle crime. crime.

But the downside is a lower turnout from police departments who struggle to make the switch. FBI and Justice Department officials said they are working to improve participation through training and other initiatives.

The low level of reporting of hate crimes echoes an equally low turnout in the FBI’s Global Crime Report released in October.

In that report, the FBI said 63% of all law enforcement agencies reported crime data for 2021, the lowest level of participation in more than four decades.

The FBI defines a hate crime as a criminal offense “motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s prejudice against race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, sex or gender identity. “.

Hate crimes have been on an upward trend in recent years.

Last year, the FBI reported that hate crimes had reached their highest level since 2001, when the September 11 terrorist attacks fueled a surge in attacks against Muslims and others perceived to be Muslim.

USA voanews

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