Emgage Action responds to 2021 FBI Hate Crime Report and NIBRS data collection

WASHINGTON, DC: The 2021 FBI Hate Crime Report, which was released earlier this month, is a clear example of why more complete and effective hate crime reporting is needed. 

As of January 1, 2021, the FBI transitioned to using only the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) to capture details of these crimes. The data collected, while a starting point in that it outlines circumstantial data and identified national trends, is severely incomplete. Information is missing from major population centers, the entirety of several states, and thousands of local law enforcement agencies.

The problem, however, doesn’t simply lie with the NIBRS system. Due to its voluntary nature, reporting has been inconsistent; as a result, most hate crime data is incomplete, as many local agencies either fail to report crimes, misidentify motivating biases, or simply refuse to comply. This constitutes a major blunder on the part of the FBI by presenting distorted and inaccurate data as a representative dataset on hate crimes.

Reports such as the 2021 Hate Crimes Report – helpful, though concerningly insufficient – are a major driver in why Emgage Action has, and continues to, push for accurate data collection about hate crimes. To this end, we have advocated for the passage of bills including the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and the NO HATE Act. Without complete knowledge of the situation, creating effective policies and action to combat hate crime is made more difficult.

Emgage urges the FBI and national, state, and regional law enforcement to understand the crucial importance of accurate hate crime reporting, and to continue refining and enforcing the use of data tracking software and analysis.