Crime Against Person

In: Other Topics

Submitted By jeremiah11
Words 875
Pages 4

The article that I pick was, “Hate crime data incomplete due partly to varying police reporting practices”.

This week, the FBI reported a 2% increase in hate crimes in 2008, as compared to the previous year. While hate crimes are an important problem in the United States (and abroad), this reported increase itself should be grounds for neither particular concern nor comfort. The reason for this is that the FBI data give us an incomplete picture at best.

While federal law requires the FBI to collect hate crime data from local law enforcement agencies, the agencies themselves are not generally required to keep track of hate crimes. Most do - and more did during 2008 than 2007, which may help account for the increase in reported incidents - but some still do not. Even among the agencies that do report hate crimes, however, the accuracy and completeness of the reporting differs a great deal. In a study I conducted several years ago, for example, I found that San Francisco reported nearly ten times as many hate crimes per year as its similarly-sized neighbor to the south, San Jose. A large part of this difference was likely due to the cities' differing approaches to recording and handling hate crimes. At the time, for instance, San Francisco had a bias crime unit and San Jose did not. Other researchers have found very much the same thing in other places; whether a particular incident gets reported as a hate crime may depend a great deal on the policies of a particular agency, as well as the training and perceptions of the officers involved. While many crimes may have variance in reporting, that situation is especially true for hate crimes, where the circumstances are often ambiguous and the offenders' motives must be determined.

Another reason to be cautious when interpreting the FBI data is the fact that only a small percentage of hate…...

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