Developments in the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
Note: The excerpts are presented as they were originally published in the UCR State Program Bulletin and therefore will include any additions, deletions, or clarifications released in subsequent bulletins. Readers are urged to read this document in its entirety before making any programming changes.
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- Proper Reporting of Runaways
- Clarification of the Summary Definition of Theft From Buildings, a Subcategory of Larceny-theft
- Clarification of the Definition of Resident in NIBRS Data Elements 30 and 51, Resident Status (of Victim and Arrestee, respectively)
- A Clarification Regarding the Reporting of Arson-related Deaths of Police Officers and Firefighters
- Contradiction in the Classification of Burglary versus Vandalism
- Clarification Regarding the Definition of Forcible Rape in the Summary system and the NIBRS
- Verification of Hate Crime Incidents
- Duplication of Hate Crime Submissions from NIBRS Agencies
- Electronic Submission of Number of Full-time Law Enforcement Employees
- Addition of "None" as Type of Weapon in UCR Handbook, NIBRS Edition (1992)
- Questions Regarding the Number of Full-time Law Enforcement Employees
Being a runaway does not constitute a criminal offense in the UCR Program; however, the FBI collects data so that law enforcement agencies can review the handling of runaways. Law enforcement agencies should report the handling of runaways under the age of 18 regardless of whether the incident is reported via the Summary system (as a Part II offense) or the National Incident-Based Reporting System (as a Group B offense). For UCR purposes, missing persons should not be reported as runaways unless the reporting agency determines that the person under the age of 18 ran away and is not missing.
Agencies with questions about this matter should contact the UCR Outreach Team at (888) 827-6427.
Clarification of UCR Offense Definitions and Classification Matters
In the course of training, answering policy questions, and conducting Quality Assurance Reviews, the staff of the FBI’s UCR Program has noted conflicting interpretations of a few offense definitions and classification matters. These conflicts have led to inconsistencies among data submissions for law enforcement agencies that submit data via the Summary reporting system as well as those agencies that submit data via the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The following presents clarifications and resolutions to five such issues.
There is some discrepancy over the interpretation of the Summary definition of Theft from Buildings. That definition, as it appears in the most current handbook, follows:
Theft From Buildings (6Xg)
Definition: A theft from within a building that is open to the general public and where the offender has legal access. (Emphasis added.) (UCR Handbook, page 34.)
The discrepancy exists over the word and. Some law enforcement personnel who literally interpret this definition feel that Summary agencies should ensure that both circumstances should be met before classifying an offense in this subcategory of Larceny. However, many law enforcement personnel who score UCR assert that either circumstance qualifies as an offense for this subcategory and that the word and is indicative of the definition having two alternatives, i.e., Theft From Building can be this, and it can also be that.
Though the language explaining Theft From Buildings changed somewhat between 1966 and 1979, the original intent of the Summary definition was to capture those offenses in which either circumstance (open to public or legal access) occurred. Therefore, law enforcement agencies should classify all offenses that meet either of the criteria in the definition as Theft From Buildings.
Though NIBRS Data Elements 30 and 51 are optional data elements, they are not always properly reported. Some law enforcement agencies have software that automatically defaults to the value of Nonresident whether or not the agency uses the data element, and other agencies erroneously report the status due to confusion over whether certain individuals should be counted as residents of their jurisdiction.
The intended use of the data elements that capture resident status is to assist law enforcement agencies in identifying whether the individuals involved in an incident are residents of their specific jurisdiction; they have no correlation to U.S. citizenship. These data elements enable agencies that have a high transient population to show that their population at risk is actually higher than their official resident population. When determining residential status, law enforcement should consider that “jurisdictional guidelines . . . provide for ‘most local’ reporting, i.e., whenever possible, the local law enforcement agency of the geographical area in which the crime occurred reports the offense.” (UCR Handbook, NIBRS edition , page 9.)
Further, page 93 of NIBRS Volume 1: Data Collection Guidelines (August 2000), states:
A Resident is a person who maintains his/her permanent home for legal purposes in the locality (town, city, or community) where the crime took place. Concerning university/college campuses, only persons living on campus (in dormitories, etc.) would be considered residents if victimized within the confines of the school property; the crime should be reported by a campus law enforcement agency.
Note: Reporting agencies should base their determinations of residency on the town, city, or community where the crime occurred rather than their broader geographical jurisdictions.
The FBI requests all law enforcement agencies that submit data elements 30 and 51, whether through system default or intentional use, be more vigilant in reporting the correct resident status of victims and arrestees.
An inconsistency exists between the 1984 and 2004 editions of the UCR Handbook with regard to reporting the arson-related deaths of firefighters and police officers.
The 1984 edition of the UCR Handbook states that “Arson-related deaths and injuries of police officers and firefighters, unless willful murders or assaults, are excluded from the Program due to the hazardous nature of their professions.” (Emphasis added.) (Page 30.)
However, page 74 of the 2004 edition of the Handbook states:
Because of the hazardous nature of the professions of police officers and firefighters, arson-related deaths and injuries of these individuals are excluded from the Return A and SHR but law enforcement officer deaths and injuries should be reported on the appropriate [Law Enforcement Officers Killed or Assaulted] LEOKA forms (see pages 109-111).
Program representatives note that the 1984 edition of the Handbook was incorrect in stating that arson-related deaths and injuries of police officers and firefighters are excluded from the Program. The 2004 edition rectifies the issue by instructing law enforcement to report the line-of-duty deaths of law enforcement officers via forms discussed in the LEOKA section of the Handbook. The 2004 edition also addresses the issue on page 39: “Incidents in which persons are killed as a direct result of arson are classified as both criminal homicides and arson. Similarly, the number of persons severely injured during an arson must be reported as aggravated assaults along with the arson.”
The FBI requests that all law enforcement agencies be vigilant in reporting the arson-related deaths of law enforcement officers on the appropriate forms.
The last sentence of the paragraph that discusses burglary and vandalism on page 29 of the UCR Handbook (2004) contradicts information previously provided:
Thefts from automobiles, whether locked or not; shoplifting from commercial establishments; and thefts from telephone booths, coin boxes, or coin-operated machines are all classified as larceny-theft offenses. If the area entered was one of open access, thefts from the area would not involve an unlawful trespass and would be classified as larceny-theft. A forcible entry or unlawful entry in which no theft or felony occurs but acts of vandalism, malicious mischief, etc., are committed is not classified as a burglary provided investigation clearly established that the unlawful entry was for a purpose other than to commit a felony or theft. (For information about vandalism as a Part II offense, see page 141.) Of course, if the offender unlawfully entered the structure, a multiple offense exists and the agency must classify the offense as a burglary. (Emphasis added.)
Because of the apparent contradiction, the FBI is asking law enforcement agencies to strike the last sentence, which is italicized above.
It is well known that the NIBRS definition of Forcible Rape allows for the possibility of a male victim and a female offender, which is not permissible in the Summary system. However, there are additional, albeit subtle, differences in reporting forcible rape between the NIBRS and Summary system as well.
In the Summary system, forcible rape is defined as “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” (Emphasis added) (UCR Handbook , page 19.) In the NIBRS, forcible rape is defined as “The carnal knowledge of a person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.” (Emphasis added) (NIBRS Volume 1: Data Collection Guidelines [August 2000], page 33.)
The discrepancy exists with the and/or wording of the NIBRS definition. Literal interpretations of the definitions indicate that Summary agencies should ensure that both circumstances should be met before classifying an offense as a Forcible Rape and NIBRS agencies need only one circumstance to meet the classification. However, the national Program staff do not discern a substantive difference between the two definitions outside of gender; the change in language reflects a clarification of the intent of the collection of this offense rather than a modification. There is not a substantive difference between the Summary and NIBRS definitions on this particular point, i.e., in either system, the carnal knowledge is obtained forcibly and/or against the respective victim’s will.
The FBI requests that all law enforcement agencies, whether the agencies submit data via the Summary system or the NIBRS, report forcible rapes as appropriate.
The FBI requests that state UCR Program managers periodically review all bias-motivated incidents with the offense types of murder or forcible rape, the bias motivations of antimental disability or antiphysical disability, or the victim type of society-public. Upon final verification of the 2006 hate crime data, state UCR Program managers requested that the national UCR Program staff modify or delete more than half (53.8 percent) of the incidents submitted with those classifications because of submission errors. Left unverified, these errors could have resulted in the publication of inflated and inaccurate statistics.
State UCR Program managers with questions about hate crime submissions should contact Ms. Mary P. Reese in the CSMU at (304) 625-3528 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
State UCR Program managers should not send hard copy submissions of bias-motivated incidents for agencies that supply their data via the NIBRS. The practice may create duplicate submissions of the same incident in the national hate crime database if the incident numbers are not identical. For example, if an agency submits NIBRS incident 2006-12345 and duplicate hard copy incident 06-12345 for entry in the national database, the database will not recognize the duplication because the incident numbers are different. In this instance, the agency’s incident count will be overstated in the FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics publication. To avoid this, state UCR Program managers should not send hard copy submissions of bias-motivated incidents for those agencies that submit their hate crime data via the NIBRS.
State UCR Program managers who have questions about hate crime incident submissions should contact Ms. Mary P. Reese of the CSMU at (304) 625-3528 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
State UCR Program managers may now electronically submit test data for the Number of Full-time Law Enforcement Employees to the FBI. Those who wish to do so may send the test data as an attachment to an e-mail via the LEO to firstname.lastname@example.org , on a ZIP disk, on a 3.5-inch diskette, or on a compact disc. The FBI is not accepting test data for the Number of Full-time Law Enforcement Employees submitted on 3480-cartridge or magnetic round reel tape.
State UCR Program managers who wish to submit data for the Number of Full-time Law Enforcement Employees to the FBI electronically must use the record layout specified in the State Program Bulletin 06-1, dated March 2006. The document is available electronically via the LEO at https://cgate.leo.gov/http/leowcs.leopriv.gov/lesig/cjis/
programs/crime_statistics/state_program_bulletins/state_program_bulletins.html. The FBI encourages state UCR Program managers to submit test data as early as possible so that problems or errors can be resolved quickly. State UCR Program managers with questions about programming or test data for the Number of Full-time Law Enforcement Employees should contact Ms. Mary P. Reese in the CSMU at (304) 625-3528 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
It has recently come to the attention of the national UCR Program staff that the option of “None” is missing from the Type Weapon/Force Involved as presented on page 40 of the UCR Handbook, NIBRS Edition (1992).
The Robbery portion of the Handbook on pages 20-21 states that “If an immediate ‘on-view’ arrest proves that there was no weapon, the offense is classified as Robbery, but the weapon is reported as ‘None.’” However, “None” was omitted from page 40 and may cause confusion for agencies. State UCR Program managers are asked to remind their local agencies that “None” is an option regarding the type of weapon; agencies should write “None” in the list of weapons presented on page 40.
State UCR Program managers with questions should contact Mr. Gregory S. Swanson in the CSMU at (304) 625-2998 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In October, the staff of the national UCR Program disseminated letters to law enforcement agencies requesting the completion of information on current year's police employee counts on the form Number of Full-time Law Enforcement Employees. Subsequently, the national UCR Program staff has received questions concerning the completion of the requested information. The following are the questions and the applicable answers:
What does the national Program consider as full-time? The reporting form states “Include all full-time sworn law enforcement officers who were on your (emphasis added) department's payroll. . . .” Therefore, the reporting agency would identify those officers and civilians they consider full-time within their department and record those counts.
Are corrections officers/jailers counted as officers? If the corrections officers/jailers are sworn law enforcement officers and possess full arrest powers, they would be included in the number of full-time law enforcement officers. If these criteria are not met, and the corrections officers/jailers are paid from your department's funds, they should be included in the number of full-time civilian employees.
Should a law enforcement agency include an officer currently serving overseas in the military? The agency indicated the position was being held for the officer, but the officer was not being paid. The officer is not being paid, therefore, the officer should not be included in the agency's counts. Only those employees on the agency's payroll as of October 31 of a given year should be included in the totals.
State Program managers are reminded that December 21, 2007, is the deadline for submitting police employee counts to the national UCR Program. State Program managers with questions should contact Ms. Nancy E. Carnes in the CSMU at (304) 625-2995 or via e-mail at email@example.com.