MicroPact Blog

9 Reasons the FBI’s National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is So Important

Kathryn Jones's avatar

By: Kathryn Jones

April 9, 2019 | Justice and Law Enforcement

The FBI describes its National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) as a “reporting system in which law enforcement collects data on each crime occurrence.” It is a compilation of reports generated by local, state, tribal, and federal automated records systems. Federal agencies are in the process of transitioning all of their record keeping to NIBRS compliant software, and state and local agencies will not be far behind. NIBRS is a massive undertaking—but why is it important? Here are nine reasons NIBRS matters. 

  1. NIBRS provides specific details of the criminal activity being reported (including victims, property loss, gang affiliation, and more).  NIBRS captures up to 57 data elements for each crime, providing more context for individual crimes and better analytics for broader crime reporting. 
  2. NIBRS provides “actionable intelligence,” which can serve as a predictor of future violent criminal activity. Because it includes so much information, NIBRS reports the exact location, time, and circumstances surrounding a crime. Law enforcement agents use this data to analyze trends and patterns to take preemptive action against future crime.
  3. NIBRS allows agencies to maximize resources. With precise information regarding when and where crime has occurred, the types of crimes occurring, and who the victims and perpetrators are, law enforcement can optimize the use of their resources to fight crime most effectively. 
  4. NIBRS provides detailed criminal history to assist profilers. Understanding the specifics of individuals who commit certain types of crime provides insight for law enforcement solving similar crimes and preventing future crimes.
  5. NIBRS serves as a worldwide repository of crime information. The data can be shared as needed to assist in the detection of violent criminal activities and trends internationally. 
  6. NIBRS assists the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in determining whether to prohibit or allow weapons purchases. The NICS is used to confirm that firearm customers are eligible to make a purchase by checking the individual’s criminal record. 
  7. NIBRS assists agencies in determining how to staff various activities.  When preparing to execute arrest and search warrants or determining when and where officers patrol, agencies can consult NIBRS to ensure they better identify and deploy  adequate resources.
  8. NIBRS includes additional criteria to consider when determining whether to refer individuals/investigations to the FBI or another agency. The wealth of details helps state and local agencies to determine the best course of action when dealing with an individual target or case that may have implications for other agencies.
  9. NIBRS is required of all Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.  Federal agencies are on pace to be transitioned to NIBRS by January 1, 2021. The FBI has made the nationwide implementation of NIBRS a top priority, encouraging state and local agencies to adopt NIBRS compliant recording and reporting capabilities before the 2021 deadline. OIGs with criminal investigative jurisdiction are required to report NIBRS information by the Department of Justice.

The January 1, 2021 deadline is quickly approaching, but why wait? Deploying and using NIBRS compliant software can help law enforcement agencies to be more effective today

MicroPact empowers law enforcement organizations to track case data efficiently and cost-effectively in a way that is NIBRS compliant, thanks to our unrivaled Data-First™ approach. If you are interested in learning more about aligning your agency with NIBRS requirements, or if you are ready to investigate NIBRS complaint software for collecting and tracking crime data, I’m happy to speak with you

About the Author

Kathryn joined MicroPact after retiring from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General where she served as Special Agent in-Charge in the Washington Regional Office. Jones has also worked as a background investigator. She has a bachelor’s in criminology from the University of Maryland and a master’s in administration from Central Michigan University.