The State of Mississippi is not messing around when it comes to NIBRS. They have established a portal with flat file and xml file upload capability. Several vendors, ALEN included, are working with agencies to complete the NIBRS certification process. As of April 30, 2020, only 6.3% of agencies in Mississippi are certified to report NIBRS using the new system.
What is your agency going to do? Effective 1/1/21, every agency in Mississippi will be uploading NIBRS data to the portal, entering their case data manually and hoping to achieve the required validity requirements or will begin missing out on funding for their agency.
Agencies in Mississippi fall into one of three buckets:
- Bucket One – these are agencies who have an RMS or are planning to implement a NIBRS ready RMS in the very near future. These agencies will submit reports via file upload from their RMS. These agencies will have software partners who are the experts in NIBRS.
- Bucket Two – these are agencies that think they are too small or have too few reportable offenses to need an RMS in order to remain compliant. These agencies need to be experts in NIBRS.
- Bucket Three – these are agencies that don’t understand the implications of the NIBRS deadline and think that they can “worry about it late”. These agencies will have difficulty getting any funding from the federal and state government because they won’t appear to have any need.
Which bucket are you in now? Which bucket will you be in come January?
If you plan to be in Bucket One, click on over to the article titled NIBRS – Understanding the Process in Mississippi and check out the process. Give yourself a score on where you are in today and whether or not you will be ready by January. If you are in Bucket Two, have you attended training? Does your staff understand what is required for the new reporting? Do you have someone designated to be your expert for NIBRS? If not, then this article is going to be helpful and maybe a bit scary. If you are in Bucket Three, well then, enjoy the rest of 2020 and especially the Holidays because come January of 2021 your going to be catching some grief from the community.
We want to spend the next few minutes discussing the effort required for our Bucket Two friends. As a reminder, our Bucket Two friends are not planning to submit an electronic file for upload each month starting in January of 2021. Rather, they are planning to log into the Mississippi NIBRS portal, which is called, Mississippi Crime Statistics. Logging in will be the easy part.
Whereas computer systems know all of the NIBRS Reporting Rules and guide the officers through entering the required data with all of its contingencies, the Mississippi Crime Statistics Portal requires the user to know (based on the reportable offense) what is required for a valid NIBRS submission.
This means that one of two scenarios will be required of our Bucket Two agencies:
- Scenario One – Your agency’s Reporting Agency Coordinator (RAC) will need to be responsible for reviewing every case, determining if the case includes a reportable offense. If it does have a reportable offense, the RAC will need to make sure that the officer’s report includes all of the meta data that the NIBRS Case Entry will require. Once the RAC knows that he/she has the required information, he/she will sit down to the Mississippi Crime Statistics Portal and enter in the case data, one at a time. If the data is missing or incorrect (according to NIBRS) then the process is placed on hold for that report and the RAC will have to collect the correct information to complete the entry.
- Scenario Two – Your agency will train officers who write reports for reportable offenses under NIBRS so that the officers can ensure a complete and accurate report (according to NIBRS) and then pass that report to a clerk to enter into the Mississippi Crime Statistics Portal or enter it in himself/herself.
Now, many of us are familiar with the summary reporting that is commonly known as UCR. Imagine that, rather than reporting tallies of the data elements associated with the reportable offenses, you now have to report the ACTUAL DATA and the contingent data that is require per the NIBRS standards. It is a whole new situation that is many times more complicated and specific than the summary reporting we are familiar with. Additionally, with NIBRS, all reportable offenses of a case are reported rather than the primary offense based on the hierarchy. An example explains this below.
For summary reporting, we have been required to report the number of cases with the primary offense only. So, if an agency had 10 robberies, they would tally up the robberies for the month and put that total (with relative information) in the summary report. Since only one offense is reported per case there is a hierarchy which determines which offense on the case is reported in the summary data. For example, if an offender broke into a house and stole a TV and then the homeowner woke up and frightened the offender and the offender killed the homeowner and then set the house on fire, the summary UCR report would reflect one murder because, of the three offenses, the murder is highest on the hierarchy.
If this same scenario exists during NIBRS reporting, the agency will report all three offenses that are part of that case. In addition, the NIBRS rules will require detailed information about each segment of the case, with segments being things like parties, property, location etc. So, what was previously minimal data on one offense per case is now multiple entries per case with detailed information and many layers of rules for data based on each situation.
All of this is good in that the FBI will now complete and accurate data regarding all of the crimes that are known to the agency and all of the details associated with these crimes. The goal and purpose of the FBI having this data is to make better decision on funding support to help state and local agencies combat the crime that is happening in their jurisdictions. Because this data is tied to federal funding, each state is making sure that the reporting through their offices is compliant.
As you can see, the requirement for NIBRs has serious ramifications for small and large agencies a like. It is most common that larger agencies with multiple reportable offenses per month have a Records Management System (RMS) to assist with the NIBRS required data by analyzing the case data as it is entered and validating that all the required data elements are completed prior to submission to the state. Small agencies who (until now) have been able to keep up with their incident reports and summary crime data reports might not have an RMS System to facilitate the NIBRS reporting. These smaller agencies are more seriously impacted if the number of reportable cases is small and the NIBRS data entry into the Mississippi Crime Statistics Portal occurs less often, thereby making the knowledge of how to enter these cases even more difficult.
If you are in Bucket Two (you plan to enter your cases manually) and you are concerned about whether your agency can sustain Scenario One or Two successfully, then you best option is to subscribe to a RMS Solution that is affordable for your agency. On average, an affordable system is one that will cost your agency less than $1200 per year per sworn officer. It would be advisable to spend an affordable amount of money to have a high probability of becoming NIBRS certified and therefore not lose out on any funding that will be tied to the NIBRS certification. Remember, your RMS vendor should be the NIBRS expert. We encourage you to consider what make sense for your agency.
For more information, please visit us at www.alen-usa.com. If you would like to chat about this please call us at 1-877-824-9313 today!