NIBRS – Understanding the Process in Mississippi

We all know that crime data reporting is changing from summary crime data to incident specific crime data.  With that change comes learning about the new requirements, collecting new (and more) data, inputting and validating all this data and then reworking data for any cases that do not meet the federal and state requirements for validity.  The deadline to be compliant for NIBRs reporting is December 31, 2020 and requires six months of crime data reporting.  If your agency hasn’t started yet, you could be at risk of missing out on future funding due to missing the deadline.  As of April 30, 2020 a mere 6.7% (List of Agencies) of agencies have met the requirement for compliance.  If you are one of the remaining 93.3%, this article will help you go from overwhelmed, confused and afraid to relaxed, motivated and in compliance!

Through the work done at the state level, Mississippi LEA’s have a well defined and executed process to get from their current state of fear and confusion to a state of compliance.  In this article, we will discuss the steps any agency will need to take to become compliant and highlight some of the resources available for getting started.

Step 1 – Determine who at your agency is or will be your Reporting Agency Coordinator (RAC).  Ensure that this person, the Alternate RAC and the Agency Head all have unique email addresses.  When your agency is ready to begin the certification process, these names and email addresses will be submitted to the state using the NIBRS Law Enforcement Agency Contact/Modification form. 

Step 2 – Determine if your Records Management Software can create the required file that needs to be uploaded to the State of MS Department of Public Safety’s Crime Insight repository. If your Records Management Software Company cannot do this, then your agency will need to enter your crime data into the repository through the Web Entry Function. How this is done and the hardships it poses are discussed in a related article called NIBRS – Using the MS Crime Statistics Manual Entry Portal.  Should you be in the market for a new RMS, please be sure that the solution you choose is compliant with Miss. Code. Ann. § 45-27-9 which states –  “any criminal justice department or agency making an expenditure in excess of Five Thousand ($5,000.00) in any calendar year on software or programming upgrades concerning a computerized records management system or jail management system shall ensure that the new or upgraded system is formatted to Department of Justice approved XML format and that no impediments to data sharing with other agencies or department exist in the software programming.”  

Step 3 – Ensure that your RMS is set up to support the requirements for NIBRs.  Has the offense master file been mapped to the NIBRs codes so that your RMS knows which cases to include in the monthly file that is created for upload to the repository?  If not, contact your software support to get assistance in doing so.  Similarly, does your RMS assist you with the NIBRS required documentation so that case data is validated in the RMS System prior to the monthly file being created?  If not, then your RMS system is simply capable of creating an upload file that has the potential of being full of errors.  

Step 4 – Ensure that your officers are using the proper offense codes when creating the offense reports in the RMS.  If you are unsure about this, reach out to your software company for clarity and additional training as needed.  Keep in mind that per the FBI and State of Mississippi requirements, you must report 6 months of data with three consecutive months of where the error rate is 4% or less.  Without having your officers properly trained and/or an RMS that assists in ensuring complete and accurate information, your RAC will become inundated with resolving errors through tracking down officers and requesting additional and more specific information.

Step 5 – Establish a plan and timeline for the certification process for your agency.  While 6 months of data is required, the process does allow for past month’s data to be submitted, validated and accepted as part of the certification process.  Complete monthly data from January 2019 forward will be acceptable for use in the certification process.  The timeline that is established should be reasonable and attainable based on your specific situation.  If you need assistance determining the timeline and developing the plan, reach out to your software provider for assistance. 

Step 6 – Establish a process for remaining compliant once your agency has passed the certification process. If certain requirements are not met, your agency runs the risk of having the certification suspended or revoked.  Some of the requirements are: submit current month’s information by the 10th of the succeeding month, maintain two years’ worth of NIBRS submissions, maintain an error rate of 4% or less and more. 

Step 7 – Request Certification Testing by completing the NIBRS Request Certification Testing Process form.  On this form, you will list your Agency Information, Point of Contact Information for the certification process and your RMS Vendor Information.  At the same time as this form is submitted, you should also include an updated NIBRS Law Enforcement Agency Contact/Modification form to demonstrate any changes or that no changes have occurred since the last time it was submitted.   If your vendor has not been certified by the state, they will need to send in a Vendor-User Agency Form which will provide them with access to the test system.

Step 8 – Complete the certification testing process.  This could as little as two months if you have six month’s worth of data to submit and all submissions pass with less than 4% errors or as long as indefinitely if the data and reporting is being built as you use your new RMS System. 

Step 9 – Relax knowing that your agency is compliant with the NIBRS reporting requirements and will not be denied grants and other funding solely on this stipulation!

If your agency currently has no RMS System and you are concerned about achieving compliance, please give us a call and we can assist.  Likewise, if you find that your RMS provider is not already assisting agencies in Mississippi with NIBRS reporting and you would like to work with ALEN to achieve compliance in the most expeditious way, please let us know. 

If you simply want to discuss this or send us your success stories, reach out to us at sales@alen-usa.com.