Message from the Director
In law enforcement, we must be accountable to the people we serve. To be accountable, we must be transparent. We are transparent when we share data and the circumstances surrounding crime rates, and incidents involving law enforcement’s use of force.
Information that is accurate, accessible, and complete enhances and informs conversations about policing. It helps us learn how and why crimes occur and what we can do to prevent them from happening in the first place. It helps law enforcement to be more proactive, helps communities use resources more strategically, and it improves the safety of our nation’s citizens and law enforcement officers.
We urge law enforcement agencies to shift to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which will be the national standard for crime reporting by 2021. NIBRS provides information about each offense, such as the time of day and location where the incident occurred, the demographics and known relationships between the offenders and victims, and many other crime details. In 2016, nearly 7,000 law enforcement agencies reported NIBRS data – an increase of almost 300 agencies over the previous year. Agencies that have recently converted to NIBRS reporting include Montgomery County, Maryland, and Toledo, Ohio.
To make crime data more accessible, we launched the Crime Data Explorer in June. The database makes nationwide crime information more readily available to the public, who can use it to view trends and download data sets for crimes reported at the agency, state, or national levels. The public can currently use this tool to analyze past UCR crime data. We plan to import and make accessible the data from the 2016 report by the end of the year.
And we have just created a database to collect law enforcement use-of-force statistics. This information will include all interactions with law enforcement that result in the death or serious bodily injury of a person, as well as when a law enforcement officer discharges a firearm at or in the direction of a person. Our goal is that this data will lead to more informed and accurate discussions within our communities and the media and that these discussions will foster more transparency and improve communications between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
We must continue to be transparent to the citizens we serve. We must get beyond anecdotal evidence and collect more comprehensive data so that we have a clearer and more complete picture of crime in the United States. We need everyone on board to make this happen. The more complete the data, the better we can inform, educate, and strengthen all of our communities.
Chris Wray, Director