The enactment of the Matthew Shepard James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) in 2009 prompted the need to revise and update the Bureau’s previous online FBI hate crime data collection guidance, since the HCPA included the new requirement that the Bureau collect data on hate crimes directed against individuals on the basis of their gender or gender identity – and crimes committed by and against juveniles.
The new 64-page FBI guide, Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines and Training Manual, contains updated definitions and a number of hate crime training scenarios, including ones designed to help law enforcement officials understand gender-based and gender identity-based hate crimes.
The FBI has been tracking and documenting hate crimes reported from federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, since 1991 under the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 (HCSA). Though clearly incomplete, the Bureau’s annual HCSA reports provide the best single national snapshot of bias-motivated criminal activity in the United States. The Act has also proven to be a powerful mechanism to confront violent bigotry, increasing public awareness of the problem and sparking improvements in the local response of the criminal justice system to hate violence – since in order to effectively report hate crimes, police officials must be trained to identify and respond to them.
The FBI’s 2011 Hate Crime Statistics Act report, showed a welcome decline in the overall number of hate crimes in the United States, but significant concerns remain, as highlighted in the ADL analysis of the report.
Since the tragic murder of six Sikh worshippers at their Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on August 5, the League has been working with a broad coalition of civil rights, religious, and law enforcement organizations to expand the HCSA categories to include hate crimes directed against Sikhs, Hindus, and Arabs. ADL also sent a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. urging him to support these additional categories. Justice Department officials are supporting this new data collection mandate, as well