HRC Blog

FBI Director Calls for Better Tracking of Hate Crimes

FBI Seal FBI Director James Comey called for better tracking of hate crimes that occur in the United States. The reporting requirements under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and Hate Crimes Statistics Act are voluntary, and many law enforcement agencies around the country choose not to report or affirmatively report zero hate crimes. 

"We must continue to impress upon our state and local counterparts in every jurisdiction the need to track and report hate crime. It is not something we can ignore or sweep under the rug," he said at the Anti-Defamation League National Leadership Summit Washington, D.C. on Monday.

The FBI releases their report on Hate Crime Statistics on a yearly basis.  Last year, we reported that fewer law enforcement agencies are reporting, which causes significant gaps in our knowledge about the state of hate in the United States.  Until all law enforcement participates, the statistics will only provide a snapshot of hate crimes in America.

Hate crimes, Director Comey said, are unique among crimes because "they strike at the heart of one's identity,” and oftentimes send a signal to an entire community that they do not belong.

That’s why HRC and partner organizations have worked with the FBI since the passage of the hate crimes bill, assisting in updating the agency’s crime reporting form, training materials, and providing details on recent hate crimes when they occur.  And HRC has spoken across the country about the importance of law enforcement reporting on hate crimes in their community.

ADL has been a leader in combatting hate motivated violence.  Along with HRC, ADL worked tirelessly to for passage of the Shepard/Byrd Act for more than a decade. 

Director Comey’s remarks are a significant first step.  HRC will continue to work with law enforcement officials and the Department of Justice to press for wider reporting because it is critical to understanding the state of hate violence in America.

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