City and county law enforcement executives have often found the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) summary process cumbersome with regard to developing strategies for responding to specific categories of crime and in making comparisons with other jurisdictions. Because it is only a summary count, there is a lack of data to help drill down on the parameters of various crime categories and victim groups to either determine what is happening to specific classes of victims or to evaluate risk mitigation programs.  Worse, the US has no national statistics on important issues such as intimate partner and domestic violence, human trafficking, cybercrime, or transnational organized crime. The process by which reported crime is aggregated and published is not always timely and prohibits the nation from understanding crime trends as they rapidly change.

A related and troublesome gap in collected data on police incidents is the lack of knowledge on the extent and nature of the use of force by and against law enforcement officers. Measures of such incidents are often documented only by the media, and there is no effective national program of capturing data so that the extent of the problem may be understood and to measure improvements as modern policing principles are applied to these situations. 

Additionally, there is a pressing need to improve the data quality and quantity in crime reporting as law enforcement and intelligence agencies continue to rely on the basic data about events to share knowledge about the potential of further crime or terrorist acts. Building a stronger, standards based accumulation of data is essential to fostering a more effective analysis of crime including terrorism, and to support the emerging concepts of proactive policing. Gathering detailed data of high quality about suspicious behaviors in incidents that might lead to the prevention of crime or terrorism is an essential component of crime reduction and counter-terrorism strategies.

In its role of coordinating efforts to improve information sharing, the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment (PM-ISE) continues to support better coordination among federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and international communities as well as the private sector. PM-ISE exercises its convening authority to facilitate joint development of standards for information sharing in the form of common formats for sharing incident information and urging the participation of the public and private sector in sharing such information. PM-ISE’s prime focus is to support ISE partners in the domestic nexus of national security and public safety – primarily but not exclusively state and local law enforcement and homeland security and their federal and private sector partners – to improve their capabilities and to leverage their investments over the past decade in terrorism-related responsible information sharing.

The Program Manager for the ISE, Kshemendra Paul, testified before the National Academy of Sciences panel on Modernizing Crime Statistics where he emphasized the dual use of data for operational purposes in investigative applications and its utility in creating local, state, and national statistics that will shape strategies and support program and mission evaluations. In its deliberations, this panel is exploring the introduction of new standards for crime classification and ways of implementing advanced concepts of analysis of high quality data needed for crime (including terrorism) analysis. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) major program for sharing data for investigative purposes, the National Data Exchange (NDEx) program, continues to expand the submission of incident data by police agencies. NDEx conforms to the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) which is the major core component of PM-ISE’s Information Sharing Initiative efforts.

A solution to the problem of inadequate data on crimes known to the police is the FBI’s National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) as a way to generate meaningful and useful data and statistics. NIBRS calls for law enforcement agencies to submit incident data to their state UCR/NIBRS Programs with 58 separate data elements on each incident including multiple offenses, victims and offenders. The resulting robust database enables analysis of crimes by type and victim group, and sets the stage for measuring the outcomes of programs. FBI Director James Comey has called for the adoption of NIBRS by all agencies to take place by January, 2021.

Collecting data at a national level on force used by and against police will require the implementation of a new reporting system. However, the processes and workflows envisioned for the expansion of the NIBRS program can help put such a new national data collection effort in place.  Using the concepts of local reporting through states, using the administrative data captured by police agencies as a starting point, and taking advantage of state and local incident reporting forms will help put a program in place to produce data that will help define and illustrate the current situation and become a measure by which to show improvements as policies and cultures change.   

PM-ISE’s efforts have been underway in the past fiscal year to move the nation more quickly into NIBRS adoption and more advanced levels of implementation.  PM-ISE has been actively convening organizations with mutual interests to explore the creation and adoption of standards for use of force reporting as well as the NIBRS objectives for incident reporting in general. In parallel with stimulating this collaboration, it is imperative to engage the software providers that make the software used by 80% of law enforcement agencies to include a common standard for collecting and validating the NIBRS data elements.  Once this transformation is accomplished, the normal implementation of new software product releases will result in the automatic upgrade of the tools, which would then need to be combined with the appropriate policies and structures to collect, analyze and disseminate the data.

PM-ISE has supported a software testing and certification program that provides an independent certification capability where software providers can test their software for conformance to standards such as NIBRS, and acquire independent certification of such conformance.  A similar process is needed to expedite that adoption and initiation of the national use of force reporting. Although many of the workflow components of NIBRS can be used to make this happen sooner, there is still no comparable agreement on a national baseline standard for use of force reporting.  There is an urgent need to convene a stakeholder group to come to a consensus on the data elements and processes for generating a use of force report.  PM-ISE is working with its partner agencies and organizations to accelerate this process so as to create a consensus standard that will be quickly adopted and implemented.   

Through the Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council’s (CICC) representation of the many classes of stakeholders in the area of incident reporting, the CICC is a useful and competent authority to come to conclusions regarding the path forward for adopting and implementing advanced practices and standards of behalf of the law enforcement intelligence and operational communities.

It has become clear that incident based data that conforms to standards including quality measures is essential to planning and executing strategies to prevent crime and terrorist acts.  It is also clear that the data has to become available to support timely decision-making as emphasized in theNational Strategy for Information Sharing and Safeguarding (NSISS).  Given the continual and drastic evolution of terrorism patterns and threats, and the need to understand and track the trends in crime that may become a precursor to terrorist acts, the nation needs to put into place national systems that are directly tied to mission outcomes.

News Source: 

Program Manager-Information Sharing Environment Blog, 23 May 2016