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The end of manual NIBRS reporting

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By Eric Wood
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In January 2021, the Department of Justice transitioned from the Summary Reporting System (SRS) to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. Now, NIBRS is the national standard for law enforcement crime data.  

Reporting crime statistics – whether it be on a national, state, or local level – is vital for informing crime prevention strategies and transparently engaging with communities and elected officials about departmental priorities.  

Collating and sharing crime statistics is an onerous, manual process rife with challenges. From the outset, valid concerns that data may be inaccurate, incomprehensive, or include content that should not be disclosed for privacy reasons materially slow both proactive and reactive reporting. The logistics of collating fragmented information simply make timely reporting too hard. Case in point – in 2021, according to the FBI, the overall crime statistics for California, Florida, and Maryland were based on reporting via NIBRS from only a fraction of law enforcement agencies in each state for that year. 

A graph showing that only a fraction of police agencies in California, Florida, and Maryland submitted their crime statistics to the FBI in 2021

But why? 

Local, state, and federal offense codes

The challenge lies in how police departments categorize criminal offenses. Most codes that correspond to a given crime are state or local codes that align with a state or municipality’s criminal statutes. There are nearly 18,000 police departments across the U.S., and they all use different combinations of local, state, and federal codes.  

Today, there are Summary Reporting System (SRS) codes – from the old UCR reporting framework – as well as state and local codes. Because of the transition to NIBRS, police departments must use the proper NIBRS code when reporting crime statistics in their jurisdiction.  

There are a few challenges: 

  • NIBRS codes are newer, meaning it’s unlikely experienced officers are using them in their own case reports.
  • Departments have entrenched coding regimes used for state and local reporting that differ from NIBRS.
  • Summary Reporting System (SRS) codes are different from NIBRS, and municipal codes.
  • The lack of continuity – different codes used in different years for the same crime – means collating year-over-year reporting is like comparing apples to oranges.

This means SRS, state, and local codes for a given crime need to be mapped to the NIBRS code for that same crime when a department shares crime statistics with the federal government. Each department might have different codes for different offenses, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution, making the mapping process in manual and onerous.  

Let’s use a hypothetical example with notional codes for a criminal offense that mirrors the manual mapping police departments do today. The SRS offense code used by a given police department for negligent manslaughter with a vehicle is 0824. The state code is 0722.

So, when there is an instance of negligent manslaughter with a vehicle, a police officer might denote the crime using one of the codes. It’s even possible that two officers in the same department might use different codes to denote the same crime.

When it’s time to report crime statistics to the FBI, SRS and state-level codes need to be mapped to the NIBRS code for the same offense, 08A.

There are literally thousands of different crimes, each of which could have multiple codes across various reporting regimes. Manually translating every single type and instance of every crime over the course of a year into the proper NIBRS code is complex and time-consuming.  

The example used above is a simple one – there’s a 1:1 relationship between an SRS code and a NIBRS code – but that’s not always the case. Crimes across different reporting regimes don’t always have a 1:1 correlation, which can lead to multiple officers classifying the same crime differently due to the code they use, resulting in errors in federal crime data.  

Police department personnel want to spend their time serving and protecting communities, not struggling with manually collating crime statistics.  

So, Peregrine delivered a better way forward for our customers – an automated tool to map disparate crimes codes to the NIBRS codes, quickly and accurately. 

From manual drudgery to strategic analysis

Today, Peregrine customers can use configurable, automated criminal code mapping in our platform. The mapping tool is unique to their agency, and we can deploy it within minutes or hours due to our dynamic data model, which eliminates the need for an army of software engineers to get involved in gathering requirements for each change or update to data assets in Peregrine.

For example, suppose that an agency introduces a new crime code that needs to be mapped to a specific NIBRS code for all future police reports in which it is used; Peregrine can quickly adapt to that new information within minutes, with no cumbersome update or change order needed. 

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[Think of a data model as a digital blueprint of the world, containing all the objects — People, Places, and Things — your staff analyzes and connects when they run a search, produce a report, or respond to a call for service. Each object is a collection of attributesa specific vehicle’s attributes are its make, model, and year. Our data model knows how objects relate to one other in the real world, and automatically creates links between objects. Dive deeper on the data model here.] 

Our customers are free from manually mapping state, local, and SRS codes to NIBRS codes. Changes that are simple in Peregrine would take dozens of hours in an RMS or CAD system because of the custom coding required.  

Peregrine’s process is easy, automated, and unique to every department we work with. Rather than spending dozens of hours manually wrangling NIBRS reporting or wrestling with unwieldy software, our customers can reallocate that time towards preventing and reducing crime, producing sophisticated crime analyses, or coordinating with neighboring departments.  

For too long, cutting-edge technologies that allow organizations to get the most from their data have been reserved for the largest federal agencies and Fortune 500 companies.  

Those days are over. Find out what we can do for you today