The Federal Bureau of Investigations recorded more than 7,000 hate crimes in 2021, but officials say that is just a fraction of the true number because many law enforcement agencies failed to supply statistics about bias-motivated incidents throughout the nation.
The Uniform Crime Reporting Program reports 7,262 hate crimes and 8,673 related offenses. Of those incidents, 7,074 were “single-bias” incidents with 8,753 victims.
For the first time since the program started, law enforcement agencies used the National Incident-Based Reporting System for reporting. Nearly 12,000 law enforcement agencies contribute to reporting, about 65% of agencies. Ninety-three percent of agencies contributed in 2020, making the latest report less reliable.
Since 2016, the Department of Justice has worked with law enforcement agencies to assist in their transition to reporting crime data through NIBRS, including allocating over $120 million in grants to support agencies’ transition.
NIBRS is a significant shift and improvement in how reported crime is measured and estimated by the federal government and will greatly improve the nation’s understanding of crime and public safety.
As a result of the shift to NIBRS-only data collection, law enforcement agency participation in submitting all crime statistics, including hate crimes, fell significantly from 2020 to 2021. Law enforcement agencies that did not transition to reporting crime data through NIBRS were not able to submit hate crime statistics to the FBI’s UCR Program.
Several of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies, as well as some states, did not make the transition to NIBRS in time to submit data prior to the reporting deadline, and are not included in the 2021 reported totals.
As of November 1, 2022, only 12,090 of the nation’s 18,806 law enforcement agencies have reported crime data using NIBRS.
The Justice Department expects hate crime statistics in coming years will provide a richer and more complete picture of hate crimes nationwide.
The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino reports a 21% increase in hate crimes in 2021.
The UCR defines hate crimes as crimes motivated at least partially by a bias against a person or group based on their race, gender, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disability. A single-bias incident is motivated by just one of these factors.
More than 64% of hate crimes were committed because of the offender’s race, ethnicity or ancestry bias. About 15% of victims were targeted for their sexual orientation and more than 13% were targeted because of a religious bias.
The report detailed the types of crimes committed, breaking them down by incident type and where the incident took place. There were 5,781 hate crimes committed against a person and more than 44% of those were classified as intimidation. About 36% were simple assault and 18% were aggravated assaults.
Thirteen rapes and nine murders were determined to be hate crimes.
Sixty-four percent of the 2,606 crimes against property were acts of vandalism or destruction.
More than 6,000 known offenders were identified and more than 56% of known offenders were White and more than 82% were adults.
The Justice Department said that with this year being the first use of NIBRS, law enforcement agency submission of all crime statistics fell significantly from 2020 to 2021 with those that did not transition to the new system being unable to submit their hate crime statistics to the FBI.
Some of those unable to report data include several of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies, as well as some states, Justice Department officials said.
NIBRS collects “significantly more detailed data” from each criminal incident, and as more agencies transition to the system “hate crime statistics in coming years will provide a richer and more complete picture of hate crimes nationwide,” the Justice Department said.
According to departmental data, more than $120 million has been allocated to support agencies’ transition since 2016.
“The Justice Department continues to work with the nation’s law enforcement agencies to increase the reporting of hate crime statistics to the FBI to ensure we have the data to help accurately identify and prevent hate crimes,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement.
The Anti-Defamation League expressed concern Monday over the FBI’s gaps in reporting, stating it renders it challenging to draw conclusions about year-over-year national numbers.
“Hate crimes tear at the fabric of our society and traumatize entire communities,” Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s chief executive, said in a 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.”
Hate crimes have marred the final quarter of this year. Threats against the Jewish community in the New York and New Jersey area prompted warnings to places of worship.
In November, a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Club Q, resulted in the death of five people and 25 others wounded.
Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, was charged in the Club Q shooting. His charges include five counts of bias-motivated crimes causing bodily injury.
“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,” Gupta said. “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.”