Reporting Accuracy and the National Crime Statistics Exchange (NCS-X)

As discussed in previous blogs, current trends in public safety and policing policy are constantly moving toward clear-cut transparency and an emphasis on data-driven and community policing. The collection of crime and incident data is vitally important in implementing crime analysis, at both a local and national level, and always begins with accurate and consistent data entry. Unfortunately, there is currently not a mandatory national reporting program in place. While the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has long sought to provide a national picture of crime in America, this effort is somewhat hampered by the voluntary nature of the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) program and the fact that there are two reporting systems within the UCR program: Summary reporting and Incident-Based Reporting.

Because agencies and states can submit data based on differing reporting models, it is difficult for the FBI to provide a single, in-depth view of crime statistics for America as a whole. While some states and agencies provide comprehensive crime reporting through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), the majority of agencies report Summary crime reporting data, which is not as comprehensive. This disparity between systems and standards affects the public safety community in a number of ways, all of which translate into inefficient reporting and vague crime analysis. Because of this, Spillman has taken a proactive approach to this problem by partnering with standards governing bodies and customers across the nation to participate in an initiative to get more agencies reporting with NIBRS data.

As shown in the chart below, because certain data sets collected by these reporting systems do not overlap, aggregate statistical representations of crime trends in the United States is simplified in order to present NIBRS data as Summary data. In fact, attempting to create a sample of various population centers may misrepresent crime statistics.

Summary Data

NIBRS Data

  • Provides counts on arrests for the 8 Index crimes and 21 other offenses Consists of monthly aggregate crime counts for eight Index crimes
  • Provides details on arrests for the 8 Index crimes and 49 other offenses Consists of individual incident records for the 8 Index crimes and 38 other offenses with details on:
  • Records one offense per incident as determined by hierarchy rule
  •  Records each offense occurring in incident
  • Hierarchy rule suppresses counts of lesser offenses in multiple-offense incidents
  • Distinguishes between attempted and completed crimes
  • Does not distinguish between attempted and completed crimes
  • Expands burglary hotel rule to include rental storage facilities
  • Applies hotel rule to burglary
  • Restructures definition of assault
  • Collects weapon information for murder, robbery, and aggravated assault
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/encs.pdf
  • Collects weapon information for all violent offenses

In an effort to improve national crime reporting and to gather statistics that would represent national crime trends, in 2012 the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) launched an initiative titled the National Crime Statistics Exchange (NCS-X). With this initiative, the BJS aimed to increase the number of agencies reporting incident based crime statistics to the FBI.

Because current information collected – and the way it is collected – in each system is so different, agencies use one or the other. Unfortunately, although NIBRS is the more in-depth reporting system, a majority of public safety agencies currently report only Summary data. Because of the disparity between reporting systems and because there are not enough NIBRS contributors to make it statistically relevant as a national model, the BJS set a goal to expand the collection of NIBRS. The first step was to identify 400 law enforcement agencies that provide a good representative sample (based on agency size and location) from across the country and expand participation in NIBRS by combining data from existing NIBRS agencies with data from the 400 additional agencies, some of which are Spillman Technologies customers.


UCR Summary and IBR Reporting Software with Spillman Technologies

As a way of progressing this initiative and providing the support necessary to move these agencies to NIBRS, the BJS reached out to the Integrated Justice Information Systems (IJIS Institute). Through its participation with the IJIS Institute, Spillman Technologies volunteered to be one of the voices of the public safety software vendor community to provide the BJS and FBI with a better idea of the financial, technical, and governance issues that needed to be addressed before moving forward with the NCS-X initiative.

Being on the frontline of this initiative will allow Spillman to become involved with national organizations and direct project strategy in a way that will increase efficiencies in the reporting products now and in the future. Spillman can be a voice on behalf of current and future Spillman customers through its proactive involvement in the NCS-X initiative. Because Spillman currently develops and maintains NIBRS, Summary, and, when necessary, other state-specific reporting systems, having a standardized system would allow Spillman to reallocate development resources currently dedicated to continually updating the various reporting systems into other innovations that benefit Spillman customers nationwide.

When working with a vendor that is dedicated to advancing and streamlining relevant reporting systems, agencies will be able to count on long lasting returns on investment. Additionally, a successful implementation of the NCS-X initiative will provide law enforcement agencies with a more detailed and accurate statistical representation of the nature of crime in the United States to help plan initiatives at levels that cannot be achieved through existing summary collection programs.