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DOJ: More Police Departments Declining to Report Hate Crimes

by Brooke Kaufman

According to Axios, some law enforcement agencies are choosing not to share statistics on hate crimes with the FBI. This comes as the U.S. Justice Department reports “skyrocketing” hate crime incidents.

Advocates and DOJ officials say underreporting can lead to misrepresentations of the violence faced by Asian Americans, Black Americans, and the LGBTQIA+ community.

In 2020, the number of police agencies participating in the FBI’s hate crimes report dropped sharply for the third year in a row. According to Axios, a staggering 88% of cities don’t report hate crime data. Over 12,000 agencies reported zero hate crimes, including police departments in Miami and Little Rock. Meanwhile, a “handful” of cities reported hate crimes in 2020.

Nationwide, reports of hate crimes spiked to the highest levels in almost two decades. More than 60% of reported crimes were “motivated by race and ethnicity and, of those, more than half targeted Black Americans,” according to Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. Though the FBI hasn’t released its statistics for 2021, a new study from California State University, San Bernardino found that reports of hate crimes increased in many of the nation’s largest cities, with a “record number” of Asian Americans saying they were targets of violence. The unpublished study also found that “hate crimes surged 46% from the previous year across 14 major metro areas.”

Clarke, speaking to the importance of “accurate and complete” hate crimes data, said reporting is necessary to ensure the proper resources are allocated to communities in need.

Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, California State University, told Axios that hate crime data is voluntarily submitted by police departments, and cities like Los Angeles and New York have recently made improvements to their reporting. Levin noted, however, that disparities in reporting will project a false of image of some cities as safer than others. One suggestion Levin had was for Congress to propose legislation that ties federal grants to hate crimes reporting.

In related news, the “most diverse set of attorneys general in the nation’s history” are publicly speaking out against hate crimes, despite facing hateful rhetoric and threats of violence of their own. Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, a Haitian immigrant, is urging all attorneys general to advocate for changes to local and national laws regarding hate crimes reporting.

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