Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have received funding from the U.S. Department of Justice to launch a three-year study to collect nationally representative information on rates and characteristics of hate crime investigations by law enforcement.
For the project, the research team will survey 3,000 law enforcement agencies and 250 prosecutors across the country. The researchers will analyze what types of crimes and offenders are being investigated, and which law enforcement investigation policies and practices seem to be promising in terms of responding to these crimes and protecting victims. The researchers hope that their effort will improve the reliability and consistency of hate crime data.
“Hate crime reporting is voluntary for law enforcement agencies and there are big gaps,” said Lisa Jones, research associate professor of psychology in the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire and lead investigator on the study. “A large percentage of agencies cite an absence of hate crimes, even some in large, high-crime areas, so there are clearly problems with the system that are important to solve. We are hoping our research can help the DOJ plan for ways to improve the reliability of the data on hate crimes, and more generally to improve law enforcement efforts to document and investigate these cases.”