Expert: Take FBI Hate Crime Numbers “With A Grain Of Salt”


Columbus police reported 94 hate crimes in 2007. Dayton, more than one-fifth the state capital’s size, reported only three, says the Dayton Daily News. Experts say that doesn’t mean Columbus is particularly a hotbed of intolerance, nor that Dayton is an exemplar of brotherly love. It means, they say, that the numbers in the FBI’s annual report on hate crimes are utterly unreliable. “The variance says more about crappy reporting standards than anything else,” said Chris Link of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. “It shows you what these reports are worth. We have a national problem in reporting criminal behavior, period.”

The FBI last week issued its report of crimes motivated by bias involving race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity and disability. The bureau has been mandated by law since 1992 to compile and release the numbers. Police agencies aren’t required to report; of 13,000 participating agencies, only 2,025 filed incident reports with the FBI. “It gives us a basic idea” of crime trends, said Paul Becker, associate professor of sociology at the University of Dayton, but “you’ve got to take (the numbers) with a grain of salt.”


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