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The Vital Importance of NIBRS Reporting

Four Ways NIBRS Enhances the Effectiveness of Law Enforcement

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By: Skip Bland

March 5, 2019 | Justice and Law EnforcementCase Management/BPM

Remember the movie “Minority Report,” starring Tom Cruise? Law enforcement officials had the ability to identify persons who were prone to commit crimes in the future. That’s a very compelling capability for law enforcement, even though it is just a work of fiction. In the real world, the FBI National Incident Based Reporting System, or NIBRS, gives insight to law enforcement agencies around the trends and patterns of future crimes, and potentially prepares them to respond prior to an occurrence. Here are four ways that NIBRS plays a vital law enforcement role.

NIBRS Provides a Holistic View of Criminal Justice Issues

NIBRS provides information on most criminal justice issues facing law enforcement today: white collar crime, weapons offenses, drug/narcotics offenses, drug involvement in all crimes, hate crimes, domestic and familial abuse, elder abuse, juvenile crime/gangs, parental abduction, organized crime, pornography, animal abuse, driving under the influence, and alcohol-related offenses. NIBRS provides specific details on these crimes, including information about the victims, offenders, property, and arrests, along with elements for each offense.

NIBRS Is an Important Resource Planning Tool

Armed with NIBRS information, law enforcement agencies can better define the resources they need to fight crime and decide how to use those resources most effectively. Resources can be scarce, and police activities extend beyond law enforcement. So, determining how to allocate resources among competing demands is a critical issue. They must identify strategic priorities for enforcement and intervention in order to maximize effectiveness.

NIBRS Collates Data Nationwide

As of 2012, 6,115 out of 18,290 law enforcement agencies are reporting their UCR crime statistics via NIBRS. That amount represents approximately 30% of the United States population and 28% of the crime statistics data collected by the FBI. At that time 32 state programs had been certified by the FBI. Twelve states were in various stages of testing their NIBRS solutions and either other states were planning or developing NIBRS solutions.

NIBRS Data Helps to Prevent Crime

NIBRS is not just important as a resource-planning tool – it has an important role in preventing crime as well. Let’s review the fatal shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, when a former USAF service-member fatally shot and killed 26 people and injured 20 others. The veteran was later killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It was later uncovered that the former airman was prohibited by law from purchasing or possessing firearms and ammunition due to a domestic violence conviction in a court-martial while in the United States Air Force. The original conviction was never recorded in the NIBRS database, which is used by the National Instant Check System to flag prohibited purchases. Is there a guarantee that this incident would have been prevented if proper reporting had been accomplished? It’s hard to say, but we do know without a doubt the result of not reporting.

As a long-standing, widely-used resource, NIBRS has been instrumental in preventing and solving crime, and in helping communities use its law enforcement resources wisely. By collecting criminal data at the incident level, it is the closest we can come today to predicting who will commit crimes. 

Learn more about how MicroPact Justice and Law Enforcement solutions can help organizations becomes NIBRS compliant.

About the Author

With over 23 years of practical management experience, Skip Bland has a deep understanding of national security issues and complex criminal and counterintelligence operations and special projects.  Bland has helped organizations consistently stay compliant with CJIS and NIBRS certifications as well as develop enhanced capabilities in law enforcement case management and operational initiatives. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology from Saint Leo College and a master’s degree in Intelligence Management from University of Maryland University College.