Reports of hate crimes in the U.S. fell last year, but the FBI acknowledged that the data were far less complete than in years past because thousands of police departments didn’t report their numbers to the federal government.
The FBI got reports on 7,262 hate-crime incidents in 2021 with only 63 percent of law- enforcement agencies reporting. In 2020, there were 8,263 incidents with 81 percent of police agencies reporting, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Hate crimes are defined as crimes motivated by prejudice based on race, gender and gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientations or ethnicity.
The FBI blamed the low participation on the transition to the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS). While the new system includes more details about each incident, law-enforcement agencies, including some of the nation's largest, have been slow to switch over and were unable to submit data in time this year.
The FBI said the main Justice Department had been working to help more agencies transition to the new system with more than $120 million in grant funding. The number of participating agencies has already increased in 2022.
Criminal justice researchers and some groups representing they are frustrated by the FBI’s data because they don’t give a reliable picture during a period in which Americans are committing high-profile hate crimes. “This latest report fails in critical ways. There is an absence of cases from the highest reporting cities and states, including New York City and California,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. Data compiled by Levin showed hate crimes rose by at least 21 percent in 2021 compared with 2020.
The Anti-Defamation League counted 2,717 anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. last year, up 34 percent from 2020 and the highest number in its records dating to 1979.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams told WABC in his city, "We must stop the pipeline of hate that we're seeing. One, those who are arrested, we should have a no plea bargaining rule, meaning, if you committed a hate crime, we should not allow you to plea bargain down to harassment. You should be charged with that hate crime and get hit with the full extent of the law."