Police Groups Call For Overhaul Of Nation’s Crime Statistics


Four major U.S. law enforcement organizations are calling for an overhaul of the nation’s system of reporting crime data. The groups want the federal government to adopt the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) to replace the summary reporting system in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program (UCR) within five years. The summary reporting system was established more than 95 years ago for law enforcement agencies to compile numbers of crimes that were reported to them in many categories. The FBI issues reports based on these data, but they long have been criticized as superficial. The UCR essentially lists just totals of reported crimes such as robberies and rapes. NIBRS includes several dozen pieces of information about each crime, including the age, sex, and race of offenders and victims, as well as the time, date and location of incidents.

The law enforcement organizations say NIBRS “captures and provides information on a much wider array of crimes and better reflects the reality of modern crime. In addition, NIBRS improves the ability for law enforcement agencies to better address their constituencies' concerns regarding crime in their communities, allow agencies to allocate resources more effectively, and provide a more comprehensive view of crime in the United States.” The groups calling for the change are the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), the National Sheriffs' Association (NSA), and the Major County Sheriffs' Association (MCSA). NIBRS has been in existence for several decades but only about one-third of U.S. law enforcement agencies in 34 states voluntarily use it.

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