I use elements of overhead democracy and policy implementation theory to explain hate crime law enforcement in American cities. I develop hypotheses of the relationships between law enforcement, state and local policies, and the preferences of elected officials, bureaucrats, and the public. Using survey and demographic data, I find that local hate crime law enforcement is driven by the presence of state hate crime policies, the support and efforts of bureaucrats, the tractability of the hate crime problem, police funding and training, and public preferences. Law enforcement does not appear to be significantly influenced by the preferences of elected officials, local hate crime policies, or administrative procedures for hate crime cases. Thus, although political control by local elected officials is weak, state officials and citizens have some influence over local hate crime law enforcement.