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Getting your officers ready for NIBRS

The clock is ticking for police personnel to get on board with the National Incident-Based Reporting System

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Agencies should be cognizant of specific warning signs that can derail the success of their NIBRS transition in order to overcome any potential pitfalls.

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The deadline to switch to NIBRS is less than a year away, and the clock is ticking. No matter where your agency falls in the transition process – whether still looking for the right vendor to become NIBRS certified, are in the middle of the transition phase or have already completed the transition to NIBRS – there is still plenty of opportunity for the NIBRS transition to cause major disruption to your department.

Agencies should be cognizant of specific warning signs that can derail the success of their NIBRS transition in order to overcome any potential pitfalls. One warning sign to watch for is a workforce who is unprepared for what the new reporting method will mean for their day-to-day responsibilities. The strict chain of command within law enforcement means that personnel must follow mandates as established by leadership and federal agencies.

However, agencies should be mindful of how they mandate NIBRS compliance among their officers if they are to achieve success in meeting the new requirements. Getting buy-in from personnel who will be impacted by the new NIBRS requirements is crucial to successful implementation. Agencies that don’t ensure buy-in from their personnel risk ineffective reporting and losing out on the benefits NIBRS will provide to their community.

With these considerations in mind, getting officers ready for the NIBRS transition is as simple as:

  • Explaining why the migration or transition is occurring, early and often. Agencies should begin informing their officers well before their state releases NIBRS-documentation requirements and avoid relying solely on their vendor to train their agency. As agencies are ultimately responsible for making sure their officers are prepared, they should identify a group of internal stakeholders who will be accountable for their NIBRS transition. Personnel who know why change is happening are more likely to adapt and embrace the change.
  • Listening to what your users have to say. Consider that people will have unique perspectives and insights that could prove valuable. In most cases, individuals just want to know they were heard with no action required as it leads to a sense of contributing to a common goal. If an officer is told she will be required to enter ten more fields of data simply because NIBRS requires it, she is less likely to engage fully. Officers should be given the opportunity to understand the value behind the new requirements and see the benefits of buying into the new process.
  • Valuing input from your team. Rather than using the “do as I say” approach, bring your team along for the change. By showing everyone’s value as a member of the team, you’re likely to get engagement far beyond simple task performance.
  • Training personnel so they can get it right. Achieving success in one’s career is a highly personal goal for most professionals. Individuals are primed to want to succeed. By giving your personnel the proper tools to do so, your agency is smartly investing in one of your important resources, your people. Well-trained individuals will feel more confident and prepared to utilize the new reporting method to its maximum capability.

The deadline to transition to NIBRS is quickly approaching. Agencies need to be focused now on training and preparing their department, officers and records personnel on using NIBRS in order to ensure success for their communities.