July 9, 2019
How Urban Law Enforcement Can Benefit from NIBRS
On January 1, 2021, the FBI will retire the Summary Reporting System (SRS), the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s main system for gathering crime statistics since 1930. After that, the FBI will collect crime statistics solely through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), a vastly more useful, comprehensive, and detailed system of crime statistics.
Participation in NIBRS has increased significantly during the past year, with several larger-sized cities and a number of other types of agencies beginning to submit NIBRS data or committing to participate by 2021. In the meantime, some large cities have not yet opted to participate in NIBRS. These agencies may not be aware of the ways in which NIBRS could help them.
NIBRS for Urban Policing Challenges
One important aspect of participation in NIBRS is shared benefit between agencies. With their large technical capabilities and populations, urban agencies can provide leadership for other agencies to participate in NIBRS. Large urban agencies can also help smaller agencies with their reporting by combining the smaller agencies’ NIBRS data with their own larger datasets, enhancing the usefulness of NIBRS data from that state. Urban agencies may also be able to lend resources to smaller agencies to help them with NIBRS reporting. When large urban agencies choose to lead the transition to NIBRS, the whole nation can potentially benefit from a better understanding of crime.
Over the last several years, police have encountered more criticism and attention from concerned members of the public, creating challenges for public relations and increased need for police transparency. With NIBRS, agencies can provide more information to the public about crime trends, and this can help police give the public the level of openness the public now expects.
SRS mainly compiles statistics about serious offenses, like homicide and robbery, which may lead community members to have incorrect assessments of crime.
NIBRS collects detailed data on many crimes that can affect quality of life, such as:
Theft from motor vehicle
Weapon law violations
Using NIBRS data, agencies could respond to community residents’ concerns about crimes that affect the quality of life. If these crime rates decrease, agencies can use the information to allay the community’s concerns. If these crime rates increase, agencies can use NIBRS data to address these trends by adjusting policing practices and strategies and providing transparency to the community about the issue.
Understanding Business Crimes
SRS counts only a few personal or property offenses like homicide and robbery and only captures a small number of possible data elements about those offenses. Because of this, SRS is not very useful for analysis of business crime, which can take many forms. But NIBRS can help police address business crimes by gathering data about characteristics of arrestees, victims, and offenders for many business-related offenses like:
Liquor law violation
Credit card fraud
Gambling equipment violation
Addressing the Effects of Crime on Youth
NIBRS provides data to help police combat problems such as gang influences on young people and drug crimes occurring close to schools. Using information provided by these NIBRS data elements, police can potentially do better at protecting youth from crime:
Ages of offenders, arrestees, and victims
Location types like daycare facilities, elementary schools, amusement parks, residences, playgrounds, and colleges
NIBRS can help urban agencies foster accountability and transparency and plan for challenges like youth exposure to crime and business crime.