The Maricopa Police Department has officially improved the way we report crime. We recently completed the transition from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s traditional Summary Reporting System (SRS) to the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS).
Since 1935, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has used UCR to report and categorize crime in our country. SRS focused on eight index crimes known as Part 1 offenses. It is safe to say crime and the mission of law enforcement has changed since UCR’s inception in 1935.
I am excited by our transition to NIBRS, which will provide more comprehensive data and benefit both the public and the police department.
When used to its maximum potential, NIBRS identifies, with accuracy, where and when crime occurs, the crime type and the characteristics of its victims and offenders. I believe transparency is a cornerstone in public trust. It is imperative the citizens trust the data they receive regarding crime in their community.
NIBRS provides greater specificity to our crime data, collecting information on 52 crimes known as Group A offenses, compared to the 10 crimes collected by SRS, which only counts the most severe crimes. This has always been a concern with SRS since many criminal incidents involve multiple crimes committed by the suspect or suspects. NIBRS can establish many more crime components as well as the relationships and associations among these components.
Moreover, NIBRS is better aligned with police departments that have implemented community policing strategies. SRS reports two types of crime — crimes against persons and crimes against property — to establish the crime reporting baseline offenses. NIBRS not only incorporates crimes against persons and property but collects data on a third category — crimes against society. These crimes against society are often the crimes and offenses that degrade a community and serve as a starting point for more serious crime.
The transition to NIBRS was mandated by the FBI. Crime data submitted in the SRS format was no longer accepted as of Jan. 1, 2021. All city and county agencies will continue to submit their data directly to their respective state agency, which reviews the data and forwards the crime statistics to the FBI. The submission process will remain the same and is done through electronic submission.
Maricopa Police Department had planned to have transitioned to NIBRS over a year ago, but the complexity of parsing the reporting data required a system upgrade of our records management system. MPD responds to over 17,000 calls for service a year and completes more than 25,000 police-related activities when traffic enforcement and other proactive data are included.
Our Records Unit acts as the quality control entity of NIBRS. They are responsible for checking each crime or offense. Data points such as incident date and time, relationships of victims to offenders and crimes, demographic specifics, location data and many other details by our officers must be properly coded. This process is critical to ensure the data we are reporting to NIBRS is accurate.
How will NIBRS affect Maricopa? It won’t. All the additional data points collected by NIBRS have been collected by MPD over the last decade. Our department utilizes a data-driven philosophy to deploy police resources.
Our department has a crime analyst who prepares daily, weekly and monthly reports using over 100 separate data points and prepares reports for our officers and police supervisors. The only difference with the transition to NIBRS will be what is reported in the FBI’s annual crime index. NIBRS will have no impact on the police services provided to our community.
Although the transition to NIBRS was time consuming for our administrative staff, I welcome any change that improves the accurate reporting of crime statistics to our community. Law enforcement continues to be a profession that is experiencing a lot of positive change. NIBRS is another example.
This content was first published in the March edition of InMaricopa magazine.