Hate Crime Coalition Letter to FBI on HCPA Implementation

January 11, 2010

The Anti-Defamation League and other organizations, working to improve the federal response to hate violence, wrote a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation concerning the implementation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

The Honorable Robert S. Mueller III
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20535-0001

Dear Director Mueller:

Our organizations co-chair the coalition of national civil rights, law enforcement, education, and religious organizations that support Federal and state hate crime education, awareness, and prevention initiatives in Washington, DC. We write in regards to the FBI’s implementation of new hate crime data collection and reporting responsibilities under the recently enacted Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA).

The HCPA amends the Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA) to require the Attorney General to collect data on hate crimes motivated by gender and gender identity – and “data about crimes committed by, and crimes directed against, juveniles.” Our organizations, and the groups that have lobbied together on behalf of the HCPA over the past decade, stand ready to help the Bureau implement its new responsibilities. You may know that many of these same groups worked closely to implement the HCSA in the immediate aftermath of its enactment in 1990 – working closely with Bureau professionals to craft the FBI Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines and the FBI Training Guide for Hate Crime Data Collection, and participating in a number of training and outreach seminars for law enforcement officials on the new law. We would like to offer our services again to ensure the broadest, best possible implementation of the HCPA.

To accomplish its new mandate, we believe it would be important for the FBI to begin collecting hate crime statistics from police agencies on the new categories as soon as possible, but no later than July 2010.

To begin the process of collecting this new hate crimes data, we believe the FBI must update

  • The Quarterly Hate Crime Report form;
  • The Hate Crime Incident Report form;
  • The Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines; and
  • The Training Guide for Hate Crime Data Collection.

As previously mentioned, members of the hate crime coalition are ready and willing to serve as resources for information needed to update these FBI publications.

We are convinced that the FBI’s HCSA program has provided greater awareness and understanding of the nature and magnitude of the hate crime problem in America. Through enactment of the HCPA, Congress has now recognized that hate crimes motivated by gender and gender identity, as well as hate crimes by and against juveniles, are national problems that require federal tracking.

We recognize that the collection of new hate crime statistics starting in July 2010 will not be easy. However, we believe this data and the accountability it creates with local jurisdictions is critically important. We are committed to working in partnership with the Bureau to ensure that a July 2010 date is achievable.

We are very appreciative of the hard work done by the FBI to produce the annual Hate Crime Statistics report – which, though clearly incomplete because many local agencies fail to report hate crimes in their jurisdictions, is now the most important annual report on the issue. Our coalition stands ready to assist the Bureau in complying with the new requirements of the HCPA, and we look forward to seeing new data collection and reporting as soon as possible.

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director
Anti-Defamation League

Joe Solmonese
Human Rights Campaign

Wade Henderson
President & CEO
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Nancy Ratzan
National Council of Jewish Women