FBI report shows decline in Lowcountry hate crimes

A new FBI report shows the number of hate crimes decreased across the Lowcountry last year, but some police agencies are questioning the accuracy of the statistics contained in the document.

Lowcountry hate crimes:

Race Religion Sexual Orientation Ethnicity Disability

Berkeley County

2012: 0 0 0 1 1

2011: 1 0 0 0 0

Colleton County:

2012: 2 2 0 0 0 2011: 0 0 0 0 0


2012: 1 0 0 0 0

2011: 1 0 1 0 0 Folly Beach:

2012: 1 0 0 0 0 2011: 0 0 0 0 0

Goose Creek:

2012: 0 0 0 1 0

2011: 0 0 0 1 0


2012: 0 0 0 0 0

2011: 0 0 1 0 0

Isle of Palms:

2012: 0 0 0 0 0

2011: 0 1 0 0 0

Moncks Corner:

2012: 2 0 0 0 0

2011: 1 1 0 0 1 Mount Pleasant:

2012: 0 0 2 0 0

2011: 0 0 1 0 0

North Charleston: 2012: 0 0 0 0 0

2011: 1 0 1 0 0


2012: 3 0 0 0 0

2011: 0 1 0 0 0 Walterboro:

2012: 0 5 3 1 0 2011: 4 11 1 1 0

College of Charleston:

2012: 0 0 0 0 0

2011: 6 0 0 0 0

The Citadel:

2012: 1 0 0 0 0

2011: 0 0 0 0 0

Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program’s Hate Crime Statistics 2011 and 2012

The FBI numbers showed that 10 Lowcountry agencies reported a total of 25 hate crimes last year, compared to 36 hate crimes reported by 11 area police agencies in 2011. The remaining area police agencies either had no incidents or didn’t provide data.

The Lowcountry’s experience is in line with state and national trends. South Carolina had a total of 135 reported hate crimes in 2012, compared to 148 the previous year. Nationwide, the number of reported hate crimes decreased from 6,222 incidents to 5,796, the FBI reported.

As in 2011, Walterboro topped the list of area agencies reporting hate crimes, though its tally dropped to nine in 2012 from 17 the previous year. Walterboro officials attributed the high number in 2011 to reporting errors.

Maj. Ken Dasen, Walterboro’s acting police chief, said he could not verify or discuss the FBI data for 2012 because his records clerk was away for the holiday and he couldn’t access the reports in question.

The Post and Courier this week requested specific details from each incident attributed to Lowcountry law enforcement agencies in the FBI report. Of the 10 agencies listed, only Charleston provided a report documenting an allegedly hate-related incident.

Charleston police had one race-based crime in which a 67-year-old white man in July was accused of using racial slurs against his sister’s caretaker, a black woman, and placing a block of wood with protruding nails under her tire in West Ashley, according to a police report.

Moncks Corner police Lt. Michael Roach said his agency handled two reports for vehicle vandalism that might have been racially motivated, but officers never found evidence to prove that was the case. Mount Pleasant Police Lt. Mark Arnold said the two reports listed on the FBI report from his agency were coded incorrectly and there were no hate crimes in the town.

Mount Pleasant provided copies of the two reports in question. One involved an attempted break-in at the town senior center; the other, a traffic collision. Neither report has any mention of bias, discrimination or hate.

Some police agencies offered no response to The Post and Courier’s query, while others said they could not access the information due to short staffing around the Thanksgiving holiday.

Three agencies — Summerville police, Colleton County Sheriff’s Office and Citadel campus police — said they could not find records of any hate crime incidents last year, despite numbers attributed to them in the FBI report.

Summerville Police Capt. Jon Rogers, for example, said the report’s listing of three race-related hate crimes in his town was incorrect.

But Stephen G. Fischer, an FBI spokesman, said the report is highly accurate.

“Ultimately, we are only as good as the data we are given,” said Fischer.

Reminders are sent to police agencies about the deadline to submit information, Fischer said. Deadlines are usually set for March. After the data is processed, the police agencies have a chance to review and adjust the numbers in August before the publication is made final, according to Fischer.

“Many times, agencies or states claiming the FBI data are erroneous either submitted their data after the deadline (showing no data), or never replied to the request to validate the data in August (showing different data). If the verification report is not challenged, then the data are assumed correct,” said Fischer.

The FBI works with the states throughout the year verifying the data, according to Fischer.

But the FBI said they can’t account for hate crimes not reported to or by law enforcement.

Dot Scott, president of the Charleston branch of the NAACP, said she doubts the veracity of the numbers given that the reporting is left to the discretion of officers in a state that has no specific hate crime law of its own.

“You have hate crimes all the time here,” she said, “it’s just that they are identifying them as something else. I think they are way under-reported.”

Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.

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