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Improving officer safety with the FBI’s NCIC Violent Person File

The Violent Person File provides officers with information about individuals who may have a propensity for violence against law enforcement

By Brian J. Nichols, Ph.D., and B. Stevens, Ph.D.

The FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) program reported 60 felonious deaths of officers in the United States in 2023. This is down from the recent high of 73 officers feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2021, but both distressing numbers demonstrate the need for efforts to improve officer safety. As a result of such statistics, staff with the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) have been focused on ways to help officers in the field receive information that could potentially save lives, including their own.

Initially deployed in 1967 under FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, NCIC was created to share criminal justice information. NCIC was the first system to provide access to criminal justice information both between agencies and across state lines. At its inception, NCIC focused on wanted persons and stolen property. However, it has significantly evolved since then to provide many more types of critical information. One of the most vital datasets is the Violent Person File.

In 2012, the FBI deployed the NCIC Violent Person File in response to a rise in law enforcement officers injured or killed in the line of duty. The Violent Person File provides officers with information about individuals who may have a propensity for violence against law enforcement.

To provide officers with these potentially lifesaving alerts, agencies must first enter information for violent individuals into the Violent Person File. Entry into the file is based on an individual’s previous violent convictions and/or expressed intent to commit violence against a member of the law enforcement or criminal justice community. More specifically, an agency should enter an individual into the Violent Person File when at least one of the following criteria has been met:

  • The offender has been convicted of assault or murder/homicide of a law enforcement officer, fleeing, resisting arrest, or any such statute which involves violence against law enforcement.
  • The offender has been convicted of a violent offense against a person, including homicide and attempted homicide.
  • The offender has been convicted of a violent offense against a person in which a firearm or weapon was used.
  • A law enforcement agency, based on its official investigatory duties, reasonably believes that the individual has seriously expressed his or her intent to commit an act of unlawful violence against a member of the law enforcement or criminal justice community.

Although the first three criteria require a subject’s conviction, the fourth criterion only requires a reasonable belief, based on law enforcement investigation, that a subject has expressed intent to commit violence against a member of law enforcement or criminal justice community. Once entered, records in the Violent Person File do not expire, meaning the record will remain active until the entering agency takes action to cancel the record.
Officers can access information from the Violent Person File through a routine NCIC query. If a Violent Person File record exists for a subject, NCIC will return the following caveat with its response to the query:


In addition to the initial warning, the Violent Person File record will begin with a caveat about the nature of the potential threat the subject may pose. For example, the additional caveat may alert law enforcement that the subject has been convicted of a violent crime or has made credible threats against law enforcement.

Law enforcement officers need access to quick, reliable information to protect themselves and each other during encounters with subjects. The safety of both law enforcement officers and the communities they serve can depend on the information they have readily available, like the information contained in the NCIC Violent Person File. The power of using the Violent Person File can potentially safeguard officers on the front lines and strengthen the foundation of effective policing, creating a safer environment for all.

More information about the Violent Person File, and the 21 other NCIC Files, can be obtained in the NCIC Community on JusticeConnect, which is accessible through the Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal. Resources include NCIC manuals, e-learning modules, quick reference cards and more.

Agencies can request training by contacting the NCIC Training Team at 877-FBI-NCIC (877-324-6242) or Any additional questions can be sent to

The information in this article is being provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as an FBI endorsement of Lexipol Media Group and Police1 or its products or services.

About the authors

Dr. Brian J. Nichols is a Supervisory Management and Program Analyst with the FBI. Dr. Nichols graduated from Capella University with his doctorate in Information Technology and a specialization in Project Management. Dr. Nichols has spent the last nine years with the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) primarily focused on improving system capabilities. Dr. Nichols is passionate about the mission of the NCIC System and its support of law enforcement across the country.

Dr. B. Stevens is an analyst with the FBI and a doctoral graduate of West Virginia University. Dr. Stevens focuses on developing and authoring resources to educate individuals in the law enforcement and criminal justice communities on the many services the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) has to offer. For the past year, Dr. Stevens, along with her colleagues, has focused on raising awareness of the benefits of the NCIC Violent Person File and promoting usage of the File.

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