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Message from the Director

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As a nation, we continue to face an evolving crime landscape. To stay ahead of threats, and keep people safe, we need a clear and complete picture of what’s going on in our communities. We need greater transparency and accountability in policing. The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) will help make this happen.

NIBRS will be replacing the traditional Summary Reporting System on January 1, 2021. NIBRS-only data collection will more precisely capture the picture of reported crime in a community and provide greater context at a national level. This allows the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program and its contributors to identify and address crime issues as they develop.

NIBRS allows for the collection of detailed information on 52 offenses, plus 10 additional offenses for which only arrests are reported. It captures demographic data for victims, known offenders, and arrestees, along with details of the incident: time of day, location type, weapons involved, or drug types and quantities. This level of detail will provide law enforcement with tools to have constructive discussions, thoughtful resource planning, and informed policing.

As with any effort to help keep our communities safe, we need to be in this together. Since 2018, the FBI and our UCR Program have been actively engaging our partners for the NIBRS transition. We have more than 4,500 agencies committed to transitioning to NIBRS by January 1, 2021. Agencies large and small, from the New York Police Department to the Evansville, Wyoming, Police Department, have made the commitment, and a number of them have already started making the switch. This is in addition to the agencies already reporting via NIBRS in 2017. Currently, 39 states are NIBRS certified, and the remaining 11 are working to develop NIBRS-certified systems at the state level.

The 2019 calendar year has been pivotal for law enforcement agencies to plan their NIBRS transition strategy and allow enough time to secure resources and develop a NIBRS solution before the January 1, 2021, benchmark. The FBI has been considering the evolution of the Crime Data Explorer (CDE) online database to ensure that the look, feel, and functionality of the site provides users with more, and timelier, data than the traditional publications. We’ve also deployed a new system to help reduce the time from data collection to data publication.

Moving forward, we expect agencies to submit data, including updates to original submissions, as often as possible. They should do so at least monthly in order to ensure timely and accurate reporting nationwide. Beginning in June 2020, data submitted will be available within CDE on a quarterly basis, starting with data from January through March of 2020.

In addition to resource planning, NIBRS can provide a more precise narrative and counter misconceptions about the scope, type, and nature of crime in the United States. We encourage agencies to work with community leaders and local media to educate the areas they serve about the benefits of NIBRS data. With accurate, reliable, timely, and accessible reporting, we can all better protect the people we serve.

Chris Wray, Director