ADL Welcomes Decrease in FBI Hate Crime Figures; Urges Action to Address Serious Gaps in Police Participation

Jews Targeted in 60 Percent of Religion-Based Crimes

New York, NY, November 16, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the release of the 2014 FBI Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA) report, which, for the second year in a row, documented a decrease in the number of reported hate crimes in the United States. The 5,479 hate crimes reported to the FBI, down from 5,928 hate crimes in 2013, is the lowest number of hate crimes recorded since 1991, the first year data was collected.

ADL called for more focused government and community action to address the deeply disturbing fact that more than 100 cities over 100,000 in population either affirmatively reported zero hate crimes or ignored the bureau’s request for their 2014 data.

Marvin D. Nathan, ADL National Chair, and Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, issued the following statement:

It is encouraging that, for the second year in a row, the FBI has reported fewer hate crimes in America.  The 5,479 hate crimes reported to the FBI is the lowest number of hate crimes reported since the very first year data was collected in 1991 and there are now more than five times as many police agencies participating in the data collection program as there were then.

It is deeply disturbing that, again this year, 60 percent of the reported religion-based crimes were directed against Jews and Jewish institutions. It shows that Jews in the U.S. continue to be targeted for hate crimes at a disturbingly high rate.

A hate crime occurs in America almost every 90 minutes of every day. The impact of these crimes on communities can never be reduced to mere numbers.  Behind each and every one of these 5,479 incidents is a victim of violence, intimidation, or vandalism – targeted for no other reason that their race, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

While it is possible that a large city would not experience a hate crime in a calendar year, serial zero reporting raises doubts about a department’s training to identify these crimes – and readiness to address them. The significant number of zero-reporting and non-participating police agencies across the country calls this welcome decrease in reported hate crimes into question. We have been working with the FBI, the Justice Department, our hate crime coalition partners, and major law enforcement organizations to increase participation in the HCSA program, but it is clear that much more needs to be done.

The report reveals that at least 91 cities over 100,000 in population reported zero hate crimes to the FBI. Although almost 15,500 city, county, state, university, tribal, and federal agencies submitted their hate crime data to the FBI – the highest participation rate since the program’s inception 25 years ago – more than 3,000 other department ignored the bureau’s request to report data, including a dozen cities over 100,000 in population.

As in years past, the FBI report documents that race-based crimes are the most numerous – with more than 60 percent of these crimes directed against African-Americans.  The number of hate crimes directed against individuals and institutions on the basis of sexual orientation and religion were almost equal in 2014 – each about 18 percent of the total number of crimes.  

Effective hate crime policies and procedures and response can promote crime reduction and build trust and collaborative relationships between law enforcement officials and the communities they serve. As FBI Director James B. Comey recently told the House Judiciary Committee: “We must continue to impress upon our state and local counterparts in every jurisdiction the need to track and report hate crime and to do so accurately. It is not something we can ignore or sweep under the rug.”

Working with more than three dozen national community partners, ADL has initiated the #50StatesAgainstHate Campaign, designed to improve hate crime training and response in as many states as possible.

The campaign seeks to enact hate crime laws in the five states without them now -- Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Wyoming – and to improve police policies and procedures and to promote increased reporting, training, and education. Improving the policy and response by officials helps to empower victims to report hate crimes and helps ensure that they get the services they need and deserve.