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New tool to help police agencies and states submit more meaningful crime data

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC— In the 1990’s, the law enforcement community called for revising the crime reporting data system to meet law enforcement’s needs in the 21st century.  The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is the result of that effort and its purpose is to enhance the quantity, quality and timeliness of crime statistical data collected by the law enforcement community.  However, the implementation of NIBRS has taken place more slowly than intended and some state agencies are unable to process local crime data and transmit it in an acceptable manner. 

To help, RTI International and its partners on the National Crime Statistics Exchange (NCS-X) team have developed an NIBRS Pre-Certification Tool. This tool will help enhance the accuracy of the NIBRS data that police agencies and states submit to State Uniform Crime Reporting programs or to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Crime Justice Information Services.

The new tool allows law enforcement agencies to conduct a “trial run” of their NIBRS data to locate errors and inconsistencies prior to officially submitting their data. Agencies simply drag-and-drop their data to the site in a flat file format to generate an easy-to-understand list of errors with descriptions.

“With this tool, agencies can better understand their crime data before submitting it to the FBI for certification, “said Kevin J. Strom, PhD, director of RTI’s Policing Research Program.  “It is not a replacement for certification, but will help agencies identify where to concentrate their efforts to generate more accurate automated data submissions.”

Police historically reported their crime data to the federal government via a method called Summary Reporting that essentially tallies a limited number of crimes. Increasingly, the federal government is asking states to instead report via the NIBRS.  States will be required to use the updated reporting method in January 2021 and are currently working to update their data reporting to comply. Currently, approximately 11,000 law enforcement agencies are not yet reporting NIBRS. 

More information about the NCS-X initiative can be found at:  http://www.theiacp.org/ncsx and https://www.bjs.gov/content/ncsx.cfm.

The NCS-X Team comprises RTI International researchers, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, SEARCH, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, IJIS Institute, Police Executive Research Forum, and the Association of State UCR Programs.

The NCS-X Team is also working in conjunction with the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division.