COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — This week, the FBI released their yearly hate crime data. Law enforcement officials say since reporting is voluntary, it may not paint a full picture of the current situation.
Data for South Carolina shows the number of reported hate crimes went down in 2021 compared to 2020.
The data comes from criminal reports from South Carolina law enforcement agencies that voluntarily submit reports under the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).
Last year, 411 of 471 agencies submitted data through NIBRS, or about 87% of agencies in the state. Officials say of those agencies, 53 reported incidents that had a bias-based motivation.
According to the data, agencies reported 106 hate crimes in 2021.
Most incidents fell within the race, ethnicity, and ancestry category with 49 reported incidents. Religion was the second most reported category with 32 incidents. Sexual orientation had 21 incidents reported. The gender identity category accounted for three reports. Two incidents were reported for disability bias, and finally, one incident was classified into multiple categories.
In 2020, South Carolina agencies reported 110 incidents. Race and religion were the two most reported incident categories that year, as well.
Compared to 2020, the number of reported crimes motivated by sexual orientation increased. FBI Columbia Field Office Public Affairs Specialist Kevin Wheeler said the increase is concerning, “We have to use whatever resources we have in the law enforcement community to reach out to the LGBTQIA+ community so they feel comfortable reporting any crimes that have occurred.”
Wheeler says if you believe you are a victim or a witness of a hate crime, contact local enforcement. He said you can also contact the FBI directly by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit a tip at tips.fbi.gov. You may remain anonymous.
You can find more hate crime data by clicking or tapping here.