In Brief

Bias incidents reported in N.J. at 27-year high, state says

By: - April 4, 2022 6:51 am

Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin’s office said people reported 1,871 bias incidents to police in New Jersey last year, a record high. (Photo by Dana DiFilippo | New Jersey Monitor)

Nearly 1,900 bias incidents were reported to law enforcement agencies in New Jersey last year, a record high for the third year in a row and the most since the state began tracking them in 1994.

Bias incidents jumped 29% last year from 2020, when 1,447 incidents were reported, according to numbers compiled by the state police and announced Friday by the state Attorney General’s Office.

Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin attributed the increase to a rise in hate crimes and bias offenses nationally, as well as improvements in reporting and community outreach.

Of 1,871 bias incidents reported last year, more than half were harassment, state police found.

The figures were self-reported by about 370 law enforcement agencies. The state has about 460 local police departments. 

People who are Black, Asian, Jewish, or LGBTQ were most targeted, the numbers show.

  • Anti-Black and anti-Semitic bias were the most common race- and religion-based motivations, with 877 anti-Black bias incidents and 347 anti-Semitic bias incidents reported last year.
  • Nearly 373 bias incidents targeted people in the LGBTQ community, a 64% jump from the previous year. People who are transgender were especially at risk, with 46 such bias incidents reported last year, up from 17 in 2020.
  • Bias incidents against the Asian community also rose, with 129 anti-Asian incidents reported last year, up 87% from 69 incidents the year before.

Platkin’s office noted the number of bias incidents can be impacted by the size of that demographic in New Jersey, that community’s willingness or reluctance to report incidents to police, and unspecified barriers to reporting.

Last year was the first year state police separately tracked online incidents. People reported 275 bias incidents that occurred online, representing roughly 15% of all reported incidents.

Reports of bias also increased at elementary and secondary schools from 96 in 2020 to 207 last year, a 116% jump authorities attributed to the end of remote schooling and a return to in-person education.

State officials acted to curb bias incidents in several ways:

  • Lawmakers passed legislation to require schools to teach students about the contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders and LGBTQ people.
  • Officials will spend over $1 million in federal grants to fund a public awareness campaign on hate crimes and bias and upgrade computers to improve incident reporting.

Nearly 275 bias incidents have been reported so far this year, state police data shows.

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Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.

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