‘Grossly Inaccurate’: Experts Say FBI ‘Botched’ Hate-Crime Data, Underreported Anti-Jewish Incidents

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  • The FBI released its 2021 crime report amid concerns from the Jewish community that the report underscores antisemitic attacks during that year.
  • Stop Antisemitism’s executive director Liora Rez called the FBI report “grossly inaccurate.”
  • “[The FBI] relied upon as the most authoritative source of hate crimes information in the United States, [and] for the justice department to provide this data, which they know to be incorrect, undermines the efforts of those who are concerned about anti-discrimination in this country,” Kenneth Marcus of the Louis D. Brandeis Center said.

After the FBI released its hate crime statistics for 2021, members of the Jewish community expressed concerns that antisemitic crimes were being heavily underreported due to a 22% decrease in reporting from law enforcement agencies across the country.

The FBI published the report on Monday with anti-Jewish crimes ranking the highest among religious hate crimes at 324 incidents reported, over three times higher than anti-Islamic hate crimes at 96 incidents reported. After the report was released, several prominent Jewish organizations criticized the FBI for what one called a “botched” report that did not accurately reflect the anti-Jewish sentiment that has been on the rise in the last several years, according to The Times of Israel.

Liora Rez, executive director of Stop Antisemitism, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the FBI report was “grossly inaccurate.” (RELATED: Perpetrators Of Antisemitic Hate Crimes In New York Routinely Receive No Prison Time)

“The 2021 FBI data on hate crimes is an incomplete report that paints a grossly inaccurate picture of the high level of antisemitism in America,” Rez stated. “When the U.S. cities with the three largest Jewish communities – New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami – are not included in the FBI’s report, then the true number of hate crimes targeting American Jews is underreported which greatly undermines the severity of the situation.”

Rez was referring to the fact that the FBI’s report included 22% fewer agencies than had reported the previous year, agencies from cities such as New York City and Miami with large Jewish populations, according to the Times. NYPD’s annual report on Hate Crime Complaints by Motivation alone showed 198 incidents in 2021, and Miami PD told DCNF that they had three anti-Jewish hate crimes in 2021.

“Without accurate reporting of the high level of dangerous hate crimes targeting American Jews, authorities lack the real-time data that is necessary for the implementation of effective response and solutions,” Rez concluded.

Kenneth Marcus, chairman and founder of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and former assistant secretary for civil rights with the Department of Education under the Trump administration, voiced similar concerns. Marcus told the DCNF the discrepancy in the FBI’s reporting was “astonishing.”

“I have personally overseen federal civil rights data gathering, and I’ve seen errors in the data, that’s fairly common,” Marcus explained. “What’s not common are two things that we’re seeing here. First, the magnitude of the error is just astonishing. Second, even though the Biden administration is aware of the error they don’t appear to be correcting it.”

Charles Stimson, deputy director of Edwin Meese III Center and Heritage Foundation policy expert on crime, pointed out to the DCNF that the FBI’s system for reporting data had significantly changed for 2021 and that many departments simply didn’t want to use the new system. Stimson also noted that he didn’t believe this was a “plot or deliberate act” by the FBI to deliberately underreport the numbers.

“It has to do with the bureaucratic left hand not talking to the right hand and the fact that there’s no way to compel the 18,000 police departments across the country to disgorge this information to the FBI,” Stimson said.

The FBI explained in a press release that law enforcement participation “fell significantly from 2020 to 2021” as a result of the new National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The announcement also noted that some of the “nation’s largest law enforcement agencies” had not submitted information regarding their hate crime statistics for 2021.

Miami PD made a similar statement to DCNF. “The Miami Police Department did not participate in the 2021 FBI National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), as was the case with many other major city law enforcement agencies which were not ready to transition from the FBI’s legacy Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Summary Reporting System (SRS). This affected not only our reporting of hate crimes, but our reporting of all crimes.”

Stimson pointed out that the new task forces combating antisemitism announced by the Biden administration and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday rang hollow in light of the FBI report. Stimson also blamed “political ass-covering” as partially responsible for the increase in anti-Jewish hate crimes in states like New York.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks at Manhattan’s Lincoln Square Synagogue hosted by the Orthodox Union on Dec. 12, 2022. (Screenshot / YouTube / Governor Kathy Hochul)

“I have no faith in this administration by [starting] up a task force. That’s just a political throwaway, to make the problem go away,” Stimson stated. “If they would simply enforce the law and throw the book at people who commit these hateful crimes, there’d be less of those crimes.”

Marcus also criticized the task forces for being politically motivated and said he “would have preferred a more serious approach.”

“Lots of different Jewish organizations urge the Biden administration to develop a task force on antisemitism, but what the Biden administration did is something different, they created a task force on antisemitism and Islamophobia,” Marcus pointed out. “That kind of combined task force makes sense only if the motivation was political.”

Marcus concluded that if the FBI data was not corrected shortly then Congress might be compelled to get involved. Without accurate statistics, Marcus argued, Jewish communities, and all victims of hate crimes, would be undermined.

“The FBI produces this data for a reason,” Marcus said. “It’s relied upon as the most authoritative source of hate crimes information in the United States, [and] for the justice department to provide this data, which they know to be incorrect, undermines the efforts of those who are concerned about anti-discrimination in this country.”

The DOJ, NYPD, LAPD and the White House did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

This story has been updated with comment from the Miami Police Department.

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