Reported bias-motivated crimes in Tennessee took a sharp fall in 2019 after seeing a minor increase in 2018, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's annual Tennessee Hate Crime 2019 report.
Overall, the number of incidents statewide indicated as bias-motivated crimes decreased by 36 percent from 2018 to 2019. Hate crimes increased by 1 percent in 2018.
Property crime offenses accounted for 21.5%, with the remainder of bias-motivated crimes being those designated as being "Crimes Against Persons."
Assault offenses were the most frequently reported bias-motivated offenses in 2019.
Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry bias was the most frequently reported known bias in 2019 at 72.1 percent, with Anti-Black/African American comprising 48.8 percent of the total reported number of hate crime.
Locally, Murfreesboro reported eight incidents under "reporting of bias unknown" and one aggravated assault of an LGBT+ individual. The Rutherford County Sheriff's Office reported one incident under "reporting of bias unknown."
The annual TBI report examines hate crimes reported to the Tennessee Incident-Based Reporting System (TIBRS) by Tennessee law enforcement agencies, colleges and universities in 2019. Reporting agencies were contacted and asked to verify the accuracy of the hate crime data reported for their jurisdiction.
What is a 'Hate Crime'
According to the TBI report, hate crimes are often committed on the basis of differences in personal characteristics, such as appearance, language, nationality, or religion. The key element of any hate crime is the presence of bias motivation. The criminal act alone does not define a hate crime; rather, the investigation of the crime must conclude that the offender was bias motivated. Eight bias categories are used when reporting hate crimes: Anti-Racial, Anti- Ethnicity/National Origin, Anti-Religious, Anti-Disability, Anti-Sexual, Gender Bias, Gender Identity Bias and NonSpecific.
The purpose of the “Unknown” bias code is to serve as a category for those offenses thought to be bias motivated and which are currently under investigation. These crimes demonstrate characteristics of a hate crime; however, a specific bias motivation code/category has not been determined. Therefore, it should be noted that a hate crime may or may not have transpired. Once a conclusion is made, the agencies are responsible for removing the “Unknown” bias code and properly categorizing the hate crime. Incidents that do not involve facts and/or evidence of the offender’s bias motivation are to be reported as “None.”