National Institute on Aging

Does the FBI’s Hate Crime Data Present A True Vision of Reality?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued its annual study of reported hate crimes in the United States. In 2019, there were 7,314 hate crime incidents reported to the federal agency by local law enforcement agencies.

Of the reported hate crime incidents, 57.6 percent were motivated by race or ethnicity. Of these racially motivated hate crimes, African Americans were the victims in nearly one half of the incidents.

In hate crime incidents where the race or ethnicity of the offender was known, Whites made up 52.5 percent of the perpetrators. Blacks were 23.9 percent of the known offenders.

There were 245 reported hate crimes on college and university campuses in 2019 that were reported to the FBI. Of these 121 were related to race or ethnicity.

It must be noted that federal hate crime statistics do not present an accurate picture of what transpires across the country. Local law enforcement agencies are not required to report hate crimes to the FBI. Only 2,172 of the 15,588 law enforcement agencies nationwide reported any hate crimes in 2017. Thus, more than 86 percent of all law enforcement agencies reported zero hate crimes in their jurisdictions in 2019. And the number of law enforcement agencies reporting any data also dropped from recent years.

Thus, there are huge discrepancies in reporting hate crimes. In California, there were more than 1,015 reported hate crimes. There were no reported hate crimes in Alabama, but only two law enforcement agencies reported data.

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