Data needed on hate crimes

Institutionalized bigotry was abolished years ago in the United States. Yet, as we are reminded regularly, some Americans’ hearts still are closed to the idea of equality.

Occasionally, that manifests itself in violence. To our knowledge, no jurisdiction in the nation takes that lightly. Police and prosecutors act swiftly and decisively against what has come to be called “hate crime.”

But how much of it occurs? We really don’t know.

FBI Director James Comey suggested last week law-enforcement agencies need to do a more comprehensive job of keeping track of hate crimes.

Though the FBI compiles hate- crime statistics, some local and state officials simply do not report all such offenses they investigate, Comey said.

He is right, and local and state authorities throughout the nation should take heed. More needs to be known about hate crime – including both genuine examples of it and spurious complaints.

As Comey put it, Americans cannot stamp out bigotry if we do not understand the scope of it.