The FBI collects hate crime data regarding criminal offenses that are motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or national origin, or disability and are committed against persons, property, or society. Because motivation is subjective, it is difficult to know with certainty whether a crime was the result of the offender’s bias. Moreover, the presence of bias alone does not necessarily mean that a crime can be considered a hate crime. Law enforcement investigation is crucial for accurate hate crime reporting because it must reveal sufficient evidence to lead a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender’s actions were motivated, in whole or in part, by his or her bias. Only then can law enforcement report an incident as a hate crime.
The law enforcement agencies that participate in the hate crime program collect details about an offender’s bias motivation associated with the following 11 offense types already being reported to the UCR Program: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, aggravated assault, simple assault, and intimidation (crimes against persons); and robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and destruction/damage/vandalism (crimes against property). The law enforcement agencies that participate in the UCR Program via the NIBRS collect data about additional offenses for crimes against persons and crimes against property, which the UCR Program publishes in Hate Crime Statistics as other. These agencies also collect hate crime data for another category called crimes against society, which includes drug or narcotic offenses, gambling offenses, prostitution offenses, and weapon law violations. Together, the offense classification other and the crime category crimes against society include 35 Group A Offenses (not listed) that are captured in the NIBRS, which also collects the previously mentioned 11 offense categories. (The Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, NIBRS edition , provides an explanation of all 46 Group A Offenses.)
The UCR Program data collection guidelines stipulate that a hate crime may involve multiple offenses, victims, and offenders within one incident; therefore, the hate crime data collection program is incident-based. In submitting data to the national UCR Program, law enforcement agencies count one offense for each victim of crimes against persons. When submitting crimes against property, however, agencies count one offense for each distinct incident, regardless of the number of victims. Likewise, law enforcement agencies submitting data through the NIBRS count one offense for each distinct incident (not victim) of crimes against society.
The UCR Program uses the minimally accepted designations for race and ethnicity as established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and published in the Federal Register. The revised standards have five minimum categories for data on race and two categories for data on ethnicity. In complying with the published standards, the FBI uses the following racial designation in its hate crime data collection program: White; Black; American Indian/Alaskan Native; Asian/Pacific Islander; and Multiple Races, Group. The ethnic designations are Hispanic and Other Ethnicity/National Origin.
Law enforcement agencies may submit hate crime data in one of three ways: via NIBRS submissions, in an electronic hate crime record layout, or on the Hate Crime Incident Report and the Quarterly Hate Crime Report forms. The media on which the state UCR Programs may forward hate crime data to the FBI include, but are not limited to, magnetic cartridges, disks, electronic record layouts sent via e-mail, and paper forms.
Most agencies reporting data electronically to the FBI via the NIBRS use a data element within their reporting software that indicates the incident involved a bias motivation. Because the data element applies to all 46 Group A Offenses, it enables agencies to indicate whether any of the 35 additional offenses were bias motivated. Furthermore, these agencies can report considerably more information about the hate crime incident because the NIBRS is an incident-based, comprehensive data collection system. Though the additional data are not maintained in the hate crime database, they are available in the NIBRS master files.
Law enforcement agencies that prefer electronic submissions but do not report via the NIBRS may use the hate crime record layout specified in the publication Hate Crime Magnetic Media Specifications for Tapes & Diskettes (January 1997). As long as they have the FBI’s approval, agencies may use any of the previously mentioned electronic media to submit the data.
Agencies that use the Hate Crime Incident Report and the Quarterly Hate Crime Report forms capture the following information about each hate crime incident: the offense type and its respective bias motivation, the number and type of victims, the location of the incident, the number of known offenders, and the known offender’s race. During a calendar quarter, law enforcement agencies submit a Hate Crime Incident Report for each bias-motivated incident. At the end of each calendar quarter, agencies submit a Quarterly Hate Crime Report summarizing the total number of incidents reported for the quarter. On this form, agencies may also delete any previously reported incidents that were determined through subsequent investigation not to be bias-motivated. If no hate crime incidents occurred in their jurisdictions that quarter, the agencies must still submit the Quarterly Hate Crime Report to report zero hate crime incidents.
When examining the data contained in this report, data users should be aware that the first line following each table number presents in boldface type that table’s unit of count: incident, offense, victim, or known offender.
To be included in this publication, law enforcement agencies must have submitted hate crime data for at least 1 month of the calendar year. The published data, therefore, do not necessarily represent reports from each participating agency for 12 months or 4 quarters. Section II furnishes individual state and agency information, including the number of quarters for which each agency reported data to the FBI.
Based on the revised standards from the OMB for defining Metropolitan Statistical Areas, the UCR Program now refers to suburban counties as metropolitan counties and rural counties as nonmetropolitan counties.
Valid assessments about crime, including hate crime, are possible only with careful study and analysis of the various unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction. (The article “Crime Factors” in the beginning of each edition of Crime in the United States [accessible at the FBI’s Internet site at www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm] presents a comprehensive discussion of the many factors that affect crime in a jurisdiction.) Therefore, the reader is cautioned against making simplistic comparisons between the statistical data of this program with that of others with differing methodologies or even comparing individual reporting units solely on the basis of their agency type.