FBI Responds to Colorlines Twitterchat

By Riley Wilson Apr 06, 2015

Colorlines recently reported news of the FBI’s updated hate crimes training manual which features better tracking of hate crimes against members of Sikh, Hindu and Arab-American communities. The news swept across our social community with many questions posed on Facebook and Twitter including "What took so long?" and "How effective will the change be?"

Partnering with the Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund, Sikh Coalition, and Simran Jeet Singh, a Ph.D. candidate in Religion at Columbia University, Colorlines hosted a Twitterchat to not only answer questions from our social community but to share perspectives on the new manual and the impact of hate crimes.

We invited the FBI to participate in the Twitterchat. Stephen Fischer, chief of multimedia productions for the agency, told us they "do not possess the capability to have a Twitterchat." Following the chat Fischer e-mailed responses to the following questions:

1. Why did it take so long for the FBI to start tracking hate crimes against Sikh, Hindu, and Arab Americans?

This topic was presented through the FBI CJIS Advisory Process Board (APB) and approved for addition to the data collection by the FBI Director in June 2013. Once approved, the FBI UCR Program allows 18 to 24 months to implement the new bias categories within our database and to then share this information with the local and state UCR law enforcement contributors.

2. If the perpetrator of a hate crime gets their target wrong, how is the crime classified? 

The FBI UCR Program collects bias crime statistics based on an offender’s perception. If the offender is mistaken about the victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., the offense would still be reported as a hate crime as long as the investigation shows the offender was motivated by bias against that victim/group.

3. What is the process of implementation for these changes? Is it focused on local law enforcement and/or accompanied with classes to educate agents?

Technical changes have already been implemented and the FBI UCR Program can receive data when the states/agencies are ready to report. Training guides and classes and the Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines and Training Manual have also been updated and made available to local law enforcement. This information is available through the FBI.gov website. Hate crime training is available upon request from the state program or direct contributor agencies.

You can read all about the Twitterchat in the Colorlines Storify slideshow below. To join the ongoing discussion, tweet @Colorlines using the hashtag #ColorlinesChat.