FBI's latest crime data report adds interactive map
- By Amanda Ziadeh
- Dec 22, 2015
Amid increasing demand for better national crime and police data, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program has added an interactive map to its annual statistical report from the National Incident-Based Reporting System.
Unlike the older UCR system, which has tracked data on fewer than a dozen types of crime since 1930, NIBRS tracks 49 categories of crime and contains information about each incident. The data base now includes, whenever available, the age, sex, race and ethnicity of victims and offenders; information about the relationship between offender and victim; the incident's location and time of day; any involvement of weapons or drugs; details of property loss; and whether the crime was motivated by bias.
Collected from 6,250 law enforcement agencies, NIBRS ultimately improves the overall quality of crime data and provides detailed agency-level offense data by state for police departments, city, state and national officials and researchers.
However, only about a third of all U.S. law enforcement agencies currently participate in NIBRS. The system requires more specific reporting, which can be costly to compile and which can make a city’s crime rates look higher after the switch to NIBRS.
According to the FBI, though, collecting deeper, more useful statistics will provoke constructive discussion, measured planning and informed policing. NIBRS, with its data-rich incident-based collection, can provide those statistics.
“How can we address a rise in violent crime without good information? ” FBI Director James Comey asked the International Association of Chiefs of Police at their October conference in Chicago. "And without information, every single conversation in this country about policing and reform and justice is uninformed, and that is a very bad place to be."
While encouraging jurisdictions to participate in NIBRS, the FBI also has improved the systems’ reporting. This year’s NIBRS report includes a new interactive map, enabling users to click on a state, view map pins for each agency, choose a pin and receive a dropdown list of that agency’s 2014 offense data showing the number and type of offense.
The FBI is aware of the financial challenges with transitioning to a new system, and Comey vouched to work with agencies on both the technical and funding front to make crime data readily available.
Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.