Hate Crimes and the Matthew Shepard Foundation

Each year law enforcement agencies from around the country voluntarily submit to the FBI the number of confirmed hate crimes in their cities. The FBI publishes these numbers in a report called their Uniform Crime Reporting, or UCR. While the UCR helps document where many hate crimes are happening in the U.S., not every hate crime goes reported. This is largely because local law enforcement agencies around the country simply fail to submit reports to the FBI. The system is entirely voluntary.

To improve the accuracy of hate crimes reporting, the Matthew Shepard Foundation works with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve to identify the reasons for reporting failures, and to develop and implement strategies for reforming how law enforcement respond to and report hate crimes.

Hate Crimes Education

The Matthew Shepard Foundation is proud to work with the Department of Justice and FBI on educational programs for state and local law enforcement officials about recognizing and prosecuting suspected hate crimes.

Following the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, the federal hate crimes statute was amended to include: actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. Making sure that police departments knew what that meant, the DoJ started offering conferences to teach leaders about the characteristics of a hate crime, the sensitive nature of these investigation, and federal support for their prosecution. Judy and Dennis Shepard speak at many of these events every year.

You can read about our recent workshop in Sacramento and contact us for more information about these kinds of events.

What You Can Do in Your Community

How many hate crimes occurred in your city last year? Who were the targets? Did your police department submit data to the FBI last year, or are they one of the many agencies that don’t even bother to investigate and document hate crimes?

Fortunately, you can find answers for these questions on the FBI’s website where reported hate crimes are broken down by hate crime jurisdiction and bias motivation. Click your state, then look for your city in either table 13 or 14. Table 13 lists every city that reported one or more hate crimes in 2013. Table 14 lists every city that reported zero hate crimes. If your city or county isn’t listed, it means that for some reason your local law enforcement failed to submit data to the FBI.

If the numbers seem low for your community, or if your local law enforcement agencies didn’t even bother to submit data to the FBI, the Matthew Shepard Foundation would love to help you improve reporting practices in your town. The first step is simply to contact us and let us know you’d like more information.

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With your help we can continue our work to share Matthew's dream of replacing the hate in the world with understanding, compassion, and acceptance.

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