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State sharpens data on hate crimes; LGBTQ people are top targets

By Mark Shenefelt - | Dec 9, 2022

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

The charred remnants of a pride flag burned outside the Ogden home of Taylor Knuth and Sean Bishop, photographed Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The incident, they think, occurred sometime the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022.

The prevalence of hate crimes in Utah and where they are happening is coming into sharper focus as state officials compile more uniform data that follows a federal reporting standard.

With the first full year of data collected in the National Incident Based Reporting System, the Utah Department of Public Safety reported Thursday that it had verified the occurrence of 96 hate crimes in the state in 2021.

State Bureau of Criminal Identification personnel analyze raw data reported by local law enforcement agencies to arrive at the verified total, Mandy Biesinger, BCI field services supervisor, said in an interview.

“We work with the agencies to confirm that everything is accurate,” she said. For instance, if credit card fraud is listed as the type of hate bias crime, it’s usually a case of a mistakenly checked box when an agency submits its data.

Biesinger said the combined factors of better reporting practices and more people coming forward to report bias crimes are showing that more hate crimes have been occurring. Even without the better reporting, an unmistakable “true increase” is evident, she said.

According to the summary released Thursday, the top hate crime categories in 2021 were anti-LGBT (33), anti-Hispanic or Latino (13), anti-Black or African American (9), anti-Asian (7) and anti-Mormon (7).

Vandalism headed the list of hate crime types (35%), followed by simple assault (23%).

The definition of a hate crime in the federal reporting program is an offense committed against a person or property that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, ethnic/national origin group, sexual orientation group or disability.

In addition to the verified summary, BCI also provides online dashboards that display the raw data reported by local law enforcement agencies month by month. According to that data, which lists the numbers of hate crime victims, not the numbers of incidents, Davis County had 21 reported hate crime victims in 2021, followed by 11 in Weber County.

The Davis County data showed there were six hate crime victims in Layton, followed by four each in Centerville and Syracuse. In Weber County, there were 10 reported victims in the Weber County Sheriff’s Office’s service area, and one in North Ogden.

The sheriff’s office provides law enforcement in the unincorporated parts of the county and in the communities of Farr West, Hooper, Huntsville, Marriott-Slaterville, Plain City, Uintah, Washington Terrace and West Haven.

Lt. Colby Ryan, sheriff’s office spokesperson, said Friday he didn’t immediately have details at hand on the 2021 reports.

The statewide raw data shows the 2021 number of reported victims, 101, is already matched in 2022 through September, 97. Under the old reporting system, there were 51 hate crime victims reported in 2020.


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