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Everything law enforcement agencies should know about the benefits of transitioning to NIBRS

Compliance with the National Incident-Based Reporting System is not an option. Here’s how to get ready.

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Getting ready to comply with the National Incident-Based Reporting System should be one of your agency’s priorities.

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By Steve Seoane for Police1 BrandFocus

Every law enforcement agency in the country will be required to comply with the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) by January 1, 2021. The clock is ticking – is your agency ready?

The FBI is rolling out the new standard in crime reporting with NIBRS to significantly improve on the quality of collected crime data. Its last report indicated that 43% of law enforcement agencies nationwide use NIBRS to report on their jurisdiction’s crime data. Additionally, thousands of more agencies have since committed to making the NIBRS transition. And for good reason. A primary benefit of moving to NIBRS is that agencies will be able to dive deeper into crime data for a greater, more efficient use of resources.

Out with the old

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) standard used the Summary Reporting System (SRS) as the national standard to collect aggregate crime data, but SRS will no longer be used as of 2021. With SRS, agencies were required to list only an incident’s top offense, meaning if there was an armed robbery and homicide, only the homicide would be listed. Crime data reports were lacking in information about the victim, the offender, the relationship between them, the location where the crime took place and a host of other important variables. With SRS, relevant details that could create a predictive trend analysis of specific types of crime to prevent future victimization were at risk of slipping through the cracks. In addition, this created inconsistency and voids when reviewing “lesser” crimes. In the same example above, an armed robbery was omitted in SRS reporting.

In with the new

Here is how NIBRS differs from SRS, how its in-depth reporting can benefit law enforcement and citizens and how to choose the best software vendor to make the transition as smooth as possible:

  • Collects more detailed, consistent data – With NIBRS, information such as victim and offender relationship, residency status, premise type, date and time, weapons used, drug type and quantity, gang-related involvement, property damage and more is collected. And perhaps the biggest benefit is that there is no hierarchy rule. If multiple crimes are committed within the same incident, NIBRS allows for every offense to be included in the report, not just the most serious one. This provides a clearer and more complete picture of the criminal activity profile.
  • Provides greater context – NIBRS expands the number of offenses to 52 total Group A offense categories, with room for more modern offenses like identity theft and computer hacking. This provides greater fidelity and insight because the increase in data being collected reflects more accurately the true nature of the crime or crimes being committed. For example, in the course of a home invasion, a homicide may occur followed by a motor vehicle theft. Previously, only the homicide would be classified, leaving out both the preceding home invasion and subsequent auto theft.
  • Deeper analysis – The ability to see and analyze these variables, such as the relationship between offender and victim and patterns of age, location and gender for specific offenses, enables law enforcement agencies to become more proactive with the data they are collecting. They can strategically place resources in prime locations beforehand because they are more empowered to know when and where the crimes are happening, who the victims are, who’s committing them and more.
  • Choosing a partner – This is perhaps the most important step in the process of transitioning to NIBRS. With the RMS Enterprise solution from CentralSquare, the transition becomes easy and efficient, virtually wiping away the challenges of the transition through the use of automated features, simple drop-downs and real-time data validation to ensure fast, highly accurate and 100% compliant reporting.

Though the January 1, 2021 deadline may seem like a long way off, it is important that law enforcement agencies prepare for the switch because the process of becoming NIBRS compliant can take up to six months. Though there are some challenges related to the transition into NIBRS, many agencies are aware that the increased and comprehensive collection of crime data will be well worth it in order to have a more in-depth understanding of criminal activity.