Lack of full participation by the more than 17,000 police agencies around the nation somewhat undermines year-to-year comparisons.
For instance, in 2004, 12,711 agencies reported 7,649 incidents. In 2005, only 12,417 agencies reported and incidents dropped 6 percent to 7,163. But in 2006, agencies reporting rose to 12,620 and incidents climbed 7.8 percent to 7,722.
Now why this, the most important piece of information in the whole story, is buried at the end of a rehashing of the Jena 6 and various noose incidents is beyond me. These four short sentences tell us everything we really need to know about the so called 8% rise in hate crimes. With a different cohort of agencies reporting each year there's no way to tell if there is any overall change in the rate of hate crimes.
You can't determine a rate of change in anything if you change the nature of the entity that you're observing. Claiming that there was an 8% rise in hate crimes based on these numbers is like measuring the height of two different trees and then claiming that the difference between the two shows that the shorter tree shrunk.
Now if someone chose to look at the numbers from the police agencies that:
then you could determine a rate of change for hate crimes in those particular agencies. If the number of agencies that met the above criteria was large enough and if those agencies were widely dispersed across the country then one might be able to extrapolate some sort of national trend in the rise or fall of hate crime occurrences. To do anything else is a sloppy waste of time and money leading to sensationalist but totally false headlines like "Hate Crimes Rose 8 Percent in 2006"
Somebody needs to take some remedial lessons in statistical analysis and application of the scientific method.