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Thousands of Police Agencies Didn't Report To 2021 FBI Hate Crime Data

The FBI recorded a drop in reported hate crimes in 2021, but the year's tally does not give a true account of hate crimes in the U.S. as thousands of law enforcement agencies were absent from the accounting, NPR reports. The FBI annualized collection of data from law enforcement agencies saw 7,262 crimes motivated by race, religion, gender or other factors last year. That's a decrease from 8,263 incidents in 2020. Those numbers offer misleading conclusions as they are drawn from a pool of 3,255 fewer law enforcement agencies. Only 11,883 agencies out of 18,812 city, state, municipal and tribal law enforcement agencies around the U.S. data to the FBI, down from 15,138 in 2020. The participation drop-off is due to a transition from a legacy crime reporting system that has existed in various forms since the 1920s to a more sophisticated reporting system that captures specific details of a crime. It allows the FBI and researchers to extract deeper analysis from crime statistics. (Antisemitic attacks alone have reached an all-time high, according to the latest audit from the Anti-Defamation League, which tallied 2,717 incidents in 2021, the Washington Post reports.)


For example, FBI data in 2021 showed that approximately eighty percent of homicides nationwide were committed with a firearm. That kind of data point wouldn't have been possible under the previous system. Thousands of law enforcement agencies, including some of the biggest, like New York and Los Angeles, have lagged in the transition that began in 2016 to the new National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Scores of police departments have found it difficult and costly to upgrade their legacy systems, despite the Justice Department's aiding state and local agencies with more than $120 million in grants. The San Francisco Police Department said it doesn't plan to send FBI data until 2015. In 2021, for the first time, the FBI accepted data exclusively from the new NIBRS system, resulting in significant gaps that researchers say render the year's report meaningless.

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