New Bill Seeks to Solve Under-Reporting of Hate Crimes

On March 15, 2024, U.S. Representatives Don Beyer and Don Bacon introduced bipartisan legislation to respond to rising hate crimes in America. The bill proposes a solution to the increase in hate crimes and the simultaneous decrease in the percentage of crimes reported. According to the FBI, just 14,660 out of 18,800 law enforcement agencies nationwide participated in hate crime reporting—marking the fifth consecutive year of decline and the lowest level of participation in a decade.

Moreover, of those 14,660 agencies participating, 79 percent reported zero hate crimes.

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Yet, even with the lessening reporting participation and with only 21 percent of those that did participate reporting any crimes, reported antisemitic hate crimes were at their highest in nearly 30 years. Hate crimes in America’s 10 largest cities hit a record high, increasing 22 percent from 2021 to 2022.

“Mandating the reporting of hate crimes and bias incidents is one of the strongest policy steps that the federal government could take.”

“Antisemitic incidents are underreported across the nation, and we need to ensure communities are accurately reporting them as well as other hate crimes,” said bill co-sponsor Rep. Don Bacon. “This bill will enable the Dept. of Justice to determine if communities are accurately reporting these instances. If left unchecked, these hate crimes will continue to go unreported and the crimes will continue to rise.”

“Jewish Americans are facing an alarming increase in antisemitic rhetoric and violence, and there is more we can do in Congress,” said Rep. Don Beyer. “We must ensure that these incidents are credibly reported to inform and improve the response, with the goal of preventing as many hate crimes as possible in American communities.”

The new Improving Reporting to Prevent Hate Act seeks to make law enforcement accountable for the accurate reporting of hate crimes. The bill makes certain federal funding conditional on law enforcement’s accurate and credible reporting of hate crimes. If an agency fails to report accurately, that agency would be required to hold community hate crime education and awareness initiatives in order to continue receiving federal funding.

The Anti-Defamation League, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Arab American Institute, American Jewish Committee, Sikh CoalitionNational Urban League and Southern Poverty Law Center have all come out in support of the Improving Reporting to Prevent Hate Act.

Mannirmal Kaur, Research and Policy Manager for the Sikh Coalition, said, “Mandating the reporting of hate crimes and bias incidents is one of the strongest policy steps that the federal government could take towards truly understanding the scope of hate-motivated violence and crimes. Doing so will in turn allow us to effectively diagnose where we most urgently need to strengthen laws and statutes, invest in front-end prevention, and take other actions to make our communities safer.”

“In recent years, our nation has witnessed a surge in hate-based violence, with a significant proportion of these incidents targeting African American communities,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “By enhancing our ability to accurately report and educate against hate crimes, this legislation not only confronts the symptoms of hate but addresses its roots. We stand in full support, ready to work alongside all stakeholders to see it enacted and effectively implemented.”

“Every person in America deserves to live free from hate violence,” said Sakira Cook, Federal Policy Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Today, across our nation, we’re seeing a historic level of hate crimes and, unfortunately, the current reporting of hate crime data is completely voluntary—with dozens of major cities either failing to report any data or affirmatively reporting zero hate crimes to the FBI. This essential bipartisan legislation takes an important step toward addressing our nation’s hate crime crisis.”