Nearly every American knows someone who has been affected by any number of public safety issues, whether theft of personal data, a natural disaster or the opioid epidemic. With better crime data reporting, however, that number could be lower. 

National Based Incident Reporting Systems (NIBRS) is becoming the national standard in crime data reporting starting January 1, 2021, and the FBI wants every law enforcement agency to be NIBRS compliant by then. The transition away from the Summary Reporting System (SRS UCR) will bring about its own set of unique challenges. But when agencies make the transition with the RMS Enterprise solution from CentralSquare, the resulting benefits have enormous potential to tackle crime and other public safety issues in a more modern, high-tech way – with enhanced data and power of emerging technologies.

The utility of NIBRS is that it collects a more comprehensive, complete picture of a crime or incident than did the SRS. For example, NIBRS places the same level of priority to each crime committed and reports a more complete set of information regarding the victim, offender, location, crime circumstances and more. Armed with this greater depth of data, public safety agencies may discover new patterns, trends and insight and apply strategies to inhibit future incidents.

Here’s a look into how NIBRS can help public safety agencies combat the three major public safety issues we’re facing today.

Detoxing the opioid crisis…

The CDC reported that the rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl and tramadol increased by 45 percent between 2016 and 2017. Drug and opioid overdoses are at an all-time high, claiming lives from coast to coast, leaving families shattered and lives torn apart with no apparent end in sight.

Yet, because of the SRS hierarchy rule, some instances where synthetic opioids were involved might not have been tallied if there was a more serious attached offense. With NIBRS on the other hand, the level and depth of data collected on drug offenses go deeper than SRS. NIBRS collects drug type and quantity, specific location, gang involvement, whether an offender is suspected of using drugs and more – every instance where opioids were involved would be tallied, giving a more comprehensive, overall outlook of any opioid-related activity within a jurisdiction. By collecting more information, public safety agencies can track all drug- and opioid-related factors relative to other crimes to identify patterns, dedicate more resources to problem areas and prevent future victimization.

Preventing wildfires…

In California, law enforcement agencies have found that the number of reported arsons have increased over the past several years. With NIBRS, law enforcement agencies can more accurately track the description, value and monetary damage of the property burned in all instances, large and small. And over time, law enforcement would be able to see a trend of data that points to repeated attempts in a specific area or better identify who are the offenders attempting arson, potentially saving countless lives and property.

Crtl-Alt-Deleting cybercrime…

16.7 million people were victims of identity fraud in 2017, beating out the previous record from 2016. As our world becomes more interconnected in cyberspace, identity theft and other types of cybercrime will only become more prevalent.

NIBRS reporting can enhance law enforcement agencies in their crackdown against identify theft by arming them with the power to accurately categorize this modern problem. While SRS reporting did not have a segment for these types of cybercrime before, NIBRS includes new parameters for crime data reporting that addresses the unique markers of cybercrime. These additional data elements include fraud offenses such as “identity theft” and “hacking/computer invasion,” and “cyberspace” as a location. By adapting reporting methods to these modern types of criminal activity, law enforcement can more accurately find, report and arrest cybercrime offenders.


With the richness of data that NIBRS is intended to provide, law enforcement has a new narrative in turning the tide against major public safety issues like the opioid crisis and cybercrime. Armed with this new narrative, public safety agencies will be able to dig deeper into the root causes of crime, identify the source, with the intent of reducing the frequency and number of affected victims.