Many resources are available regarding how the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) will have widespread benefits at the national level. However, it can cause law enforcement personnel to wonder how they will keep up with all the changes as compared to Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR). When agencies are transitioning their officers to using NIBRS full time, it is important to be concise and get to the key benefits of how NIBRS will prompt positive results specifically at the local level.   

An instrumental portion of the training process needed to implement NIBRS is to drive home an understanding of the benefits that the new reporting system will bring. If you are reporting NIBRS today or are still preparing for the transition, focusing on these benefits can help make for a more seamless transition ahead of the 2021 deadline.

Provides greater context for stronger insight to crimes

An intrinsic feature of NIBRS is that it provides much more context surrounding individual offenses. This in turn provides investigators and law enforcement personnel stronger insight into crimes. Arrests and clearances can be linked to specific incidents and offenses. NIBRS helps reveal patterns into victimization and explores characteristics of suspected offenders.

For example, certain crimes tend to be seasonal in nature. Communities with a large number of recreational parks and lakes tend to see an uptick in visitors and tourists during warmer months, and as a result, also see an uptick in crime. The increase in required NIBRS reporting criteria would allow officers to get more data and greater insight into specific types of criminal activity.

More robust standardized data

Greater context and stronger insight inevitably lead to more robust, standardized crime data for law enforcement agencies, which in turn leads to stronger reporting. When local agencies have stronger reporting mechanisms, they are able to communicate patterns, fluctuations and emerging trends more effectively to all stakeholders – personnel, command staff and the community. A better understanding of crime data can lead to actionable change within communities to create safer environments to live. Agencies can also distribute the more standardized crime data to neighboring jurisdictions to make analytical comparisons and share relevant data that can help solve crime.

NIBRS will greatly improve the detail and accuracy of crime data across the spectrum because NIBRS provides better data that leads to actionable intelligence, from a national level to a state level all the way down to an individual agency. As any agency prepares for the transition, it is important to focus on the benefits of NIBRS reporting when training teams.

Under the best circumstances, a transition can take three to six months. Be prepared for the learning curves, training issues, errors and certification process. Engage users and define a champion who will be tasked as the NIBRS expert. Agencies that focus on communicating NIBRS benefits and jumpstarting the process of training their personnel early on have positioned themselves for success, even long after the implementation process is complete.

Once personnel and agencies have successfully incorporated NIBRS into their daily routine, they will begin to see the benefit at their local level through richer, more standardized data that will help create safer communities.