Missing cities in FBI’s hate crime data: New York, LA, Miami

The two largest cities in the US—New York and Los Angeles—did not submit any data. Neither did Miami. These omissions are concerning given that New York and California have typically contributed to the highest number of hate crimes.


Meanwhile, others like Chicago, Illinois, and Phoenix, Arizona, reported zero hate crimes, which seems implausible.

“Hate crimes tear at the fabric of our society and traumatize entire communities,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League(ADL), said in a Dec. 12 statement. “The failure by major states and cities across the country to report hate crime data essentially—and inexcusably—erases the lived experience of marginalized communities across the country.”


“The data need not be perfect,” Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, told LA Times. “But when it is this incomplete, it becomes an obstacle, because the average American will look at it and say, ‘Oh, OK, hate crimes are down.”

Greenblatt is urging Congress to make it mandatory for state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding to participate in the FBI’s hate crime data collection efforts. Meanwhile, Levin has called for the FBI to amend the report to include more major cities.


Why is the FBI’s hate crime data incomplete?

While NIBRS complicating things has had the biggest impact, there’s also other facets to this reporting system that can create gaps.


For one, reporting isn’t compulsory for anyone but federal law enforcement. “Agencies participate voluntarily and submit their crime data either through a state UCR program or directly to the FBI’s UCR Program,” the FBI states.

Secondly, victims don’t always report hate crimes.

Plus, hate crimes may go under the radar since there’s no objective criteria to define them. Broadly, these crimes are motivated by the offender’s bias against a race, gender, gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, but motivation is subjective.


“The presence of bias alone does not necessarily mean that a crime can be considered a hate crime,” the federal agency explains. “Only when a law enforcement investigation reveals sufficient evidence to lead a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender’s actions were motivated, in whole or in part, by their bias, should an agency report an incident as a hate crime.”

The Justice department is trying to get reporting up

“No one in this country should be forced to live their life in fear of being attacked because of what they look like, whom they love, or where they worship. The department will continue to use all of the tools and resources at our disposal to stand up to bias-motivated violence in our communities.” —Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta’s statement 


Hate crime reporting in the US, by the digits

18,812: City, university and college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies in 2021 that could have reported statistics under the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program


11,883: Law enforcement agencies that did report their information to NIBRS as of Jun 1, 2022

64.8%: Victims were targeted because of their race and ethnicity in 2021

15.6%: Victims targeted because their sexual orientation in 2021

13.3%: Victims targeted because of their religion in 2021

5: Bias motivations per offense type that a law enforcement agency can report

$120 million: Grants the justice department has allocated since 2016 to assist law enforcement agencies transition to NIBRS


24: Languages the department of justice allows people to report hate crime in

94: All US Attorneys’ Offices will host a United Against Hate program to improve reporting by helping community members prevent, identify, and report hate crimes, and build trust between them and law enforcement, the justice department announced in September


What is the point of collecting hate crime data?

The statistics are an asset to several strategists, including criminologists, policymakers and historians, among others. According to the FBI, these annual figures


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