New crime reporting system a goal for OPD
For years, most police departments across the country have used the Uniform Crime Reporting system to keep accurate data on crimes. While it was encouraged to send the data to the FBI, it wasn’t mandatory.
Now, many departments are switching from UCR to the National Incident-Based Reporting System, with the Oxford Police Department hoping to soon join the ranks.
“Moving toward using NIBRS is something we’ve wanted to do for awhile,” Oxford Police Department Maj. Sheridan Maiden said. “For us to implement NIBRS we would have to contract with our current vendor to switch over our reporting systems and software.”
The cost to switch over is about $32,000, Maiden estimates.
“We’re going to be looking at trying to find some grant money to help with the expense,” Maiden said. “We’ll be examining our budget to see what our avenues are to generate the funding.”
The switch to NIBRS by many departments is in part because of new regulations from the federal government which recently told law enforcement agencies that while reporting is still optional, any department receiving federal grants will be required to send crime reports using NIBRS to the FBI by 2021.
Maiden said OPD receives several federal grants and has been reporting its crime data for many years using the current UCR system.
However, switching to the NIBRS system will give a truer depiction of criminal activity, Maiden said.
“Say someone breaks into your home and you have an old gold coin collection valued at $5,000,” Maiden said. “Say they take your big, flat screen television and during the course of this burglary, they pistol whip you, take your keys and leave in your car. Under UCR, it would be only reported as a burglary.”
With NIBRS, each crime committed during the course of an incident would be entered and reported.
“You’d then report a burglary, grand theft, theft of a vehicle and aggravated assault instead of it just all falling under burglary,” Maiden said.
NIBRS helps to improve the overall quality of crime data collected by law enforcement, captures details on each single crime incident — as well as on separate offenses within the same incident — including information on victims, known offenders, relationships between victims and offenders, arrestees, and property involved in the crimes.
Unlike data reported through UCR, an aggregate monthly tally of crimes, the NIBRS data goes much deeper because of its ability to provide circumstances and context for crimes. It includes all offenses within a single incident and additional aspects of each event, like location, time of day, and whether the incident was cleared, according to the FBI website.
The UCR program is actively working to increase NIBRS participation by partnering with the Bureau of Justice Statistics on the National Crime Statistics Exchange, working with advocacy groups to emphasize the importance of NIBRS data for the public and the law enforcement community, and transitioning the UCR program to a NIBRS only data collection by 2021.
Maiden and other OPD personnel recently attended NIBRS training in Jackson.