The Police Foundation’s Open Hate Crime Data Challenge

The Police Foundation launched the Hate Crimes Open Data Challenge with a goal of 50 or more PDI agencies participating.

 

It has been just over two months since the initial call for commitments went out and 31 agencies throughout the country have already agreed to release open hate crime data. Congratulations to these agencies for making the challenge a success!

 

The FBI collects and publishes hate crime statistics on an annual basis. These data sets provide information on the “number of incidents, offenses, victims, and offenders in reported crimes that were motivated in whole or in part by a bias against the victim’s perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, or disability.”

 

Individual agencies releasing open, incident-level hate crime data is a way for the public to better understand these types of crimes in more detail and much quicker than relying solely on the FBI’s data releases, particularly because of the incompleteness of FBI national hate crime data.

 

There were three PDI agencies -- Bloomington, Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, and Lincoln, Nebraska --  that had already released open data on hate crimes in their jurisdictions prior to our call for action. Since then they have been joined by partner agencies that have already begun publishing their hate crime data online.

 

The Orlando (Florida) Police Department published a dataset of recorded hate crimes since 2010 less than two weeks after our call went out - a tremendous accomplishment. Orlando’s data provides details on hate crimes such as the date an incident occurred, the type of crime, the race/gender of the victim, information on whether the incident is classified as verified or unverified, and the bias motivation behind the crime.

 

With this open dataset it is easy to break down hate crimes in Orlando by the motivation driving them as I have done in the below graph:

A few weeks later, the Montgomery County, Maryland Police Department published their dataset of crimes “that may be motivated by an offender's bias against a race, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

 

This dataset gives information on offenses from the start of 2016 through the present including the type of bias, number of victims, and whether the victim was a person or business/organization.

 

These data sets also make it really easy to chart changes in hate crimes over time. The below graph shows incidents per month (blue bars) and the average number of incidents over the preceding six months (green line) in Montgomery County since the start of 2016. With hate crime data it’s always important to remember that it can be difficult to determine if a rise in incidents is due to a rise in reporting or a rise in crimes committed.

 

Open hate crime data has lots of room for expansion and innovation. With over 30 PDI agencies committed to releasing open hate crime data, there will surely be new ideas for presenting this critical information in interesting ways.

 

The goal is for 50 agencies to commit to releasing hate crimes data in the future. We are well on our way to achieving this and hope even more of the 139 agencies that make up the Police Data Initiative will join us on this quest. To join the Hate Crimes Open Data Challenge, contact PDI@policefoundation.org.

 

Here are the 31 agencies currently committed to releasing open data on hate crimes:

 

  1. Austin, TX
  2. Beloit, WI
  3. Bloomington, IN (Released Data Prior to Challenge)
  4. Cambridge, MA
  5. Charleston, SC
  6. Denver, CO
  7. Fairfax, VA
  8. Fayetteville, AR
  9. Ferndale, MI
  10. Kinston, NC
  11. Las Cruces, NM
  12. Lincoln, NE (Released Data Prior to Challenge)
  13. Louisville, KY (Released Data Prior to Challenge)
  14. Montgomery County, MD
  15. Norman, OK
  16. Norristown, PA
  17. Northampton, MA
  18. Oak Creek, WI
  19. Orlando, FL
  20. Owensboro, KY
  21. Palos Park, IL
  22. Portland, OR
  23. Prescott Valley, AZ
  24. Sacramento, CA
  25. Salt Lake City, Utah
  26. San Diego, CA
  27. Seattle, WA
  28. St. John, IN
  29. Tacoma, WA
  30. Tucson, AZ
  31. Vermont State Police
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