Hate Crimes in Montana
The Montana Board of Crime Control (MBCC) serves as the Uniform Crime Reporting/Incident-Based Reporting State Program (State UCR/IBR Program). Montana’s Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) submit incident-based crime reports to the MBCC’s State UCR/IBR Program on a monthly basis. These crime reports contain specific information for each reportable incident. For more information about the Montana Incident-Based Reporting System see the 2007 Crime in Montana and the Montana Incident-Based Reporting Standards available on the MBCC website at mbcc.mt.gov.
How is a hate crime reported?
A hate crime is reported to the State UCR program using a specific data element within the incident based reports called ‘bias motivation’. This data element indicates whether the offense was bias motivated indicating a hate crime, such as anti-black, anti-religion, etc. The bias motivation accepts twenty-three (23) different values. Each value indicates a specific bias. Furthermore those values can be categorized into these six (6) categories: (1) racial bias, (2) religious bias, (3) ethnic/national origin bias, (4) sexual orientation bias, and (5) disability bias. The sixth (6) category is ‘other’ and it includes a no bias code (there was no bias present in the commission of the offense) and for unknown (the bias has not been determined).
In 2003, the MBCC started collecting hate crime information in this format. Prior, LEAs submitted a supplemental hate crime paper form. As a result from switching to a comprehensive electronic crime reporting system, it has become easier and more efficient for LEAs to report a bias motivated offense. From 2002 to 2003, a larger than expected increase of bias motivated offenses were reported. The jump in offenses is primarily caused by the change in reporting systems. Additionally, staff turnover, training, jurisdictional policy, and familiarity with incident-based crime reporting will affect the number of bias motivated offense reported.