Hate crime reporting was originally instituted to provide communities with an early warning sign of intergroup tensions. Optimally, a community would be able to identify trends of increasing conflict between two groups of people and determine where it is occurring. The Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission has conducted these analyses of its yearly reports and is drawing information that not only directs its efforts at addressing potential intergroup conflicts before they develop, but is also being used to develop recommendations for the Board of Supervisors and others in the county to use in planning decisions and resource allocations.

Hate crime reporting still has a long way to go before it becomes simply another crime reporting category. Some law enforcement agencies resist reporting hate crimes. There is little political or financial inducements for law enforcement agencies to report hate crimes. Reports of hate crime are often counterproductive to the image a community is trying to promote; and, unlike efforts to address drug trafficking and youth gangs, federal and state moneys have not been allocated to local communities to promote better identification and response.

Many law enforcement agencies that make hate crime reporting a priority do so because it fosters better relationships with the communities they serve and it surfaces problems that need to be addressed. CAHRO has been working to strengthen links between communities, schools and law enforcement to report and respond to hate crimes.

Hate crimes and hate violence are also documented by private organizations who want to monitor the level of hate directed towards their constituents. The B’nai B’rith Antidefamation League has the longest history of measuring the incidence of hate crimes, particularly those directed against people or institutions because they are Jewish. In recent years they have been joined by the National Gay Lesbian Task Force and by the Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium. Within California the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission was the first non-law enforcement public agency to take reports of hate crimes. Their lead has been followed by (from south to north) the San Diego Hate Crimes Registry which is a joint project of the city’s human relations commission and the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League, the Orange County Human Relations Commission, the Santa Barbara County Human Relations Commission, the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission, the Sonoma County Human Relations Commission, and the Sacramento Fair Housing and Human Relations Commission. The Humboldt County Human Relations Commission, Fresno Metro-Ministries, and the Kern County Human Relations Commission are all developing hate crime reporting systems. The advantage of a non-law enforcement agency being involved in accepting reports of incidents of hate crime is that they will often get reports from people who are hesitant to report them to law enforcement agencies, and they can also take reports of incidents that may not be hate crimes, but still provide indications of intergroup tensions within a community.