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PITTSBURGH, PA, (November 14, 2023) -- Beginning today, in accordance with the national shift in crime data collection and reporting methods, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police will switch over to the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS).
NIBRS is the law enforcement community's standard for quantifying crime, replacing the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) method which was formally discontinued on January 1, 2021.
With this changeover, the public should be aware that there are important differences between the two reporting methods that result in crime statistics that initially appear to be higher than usual, due to the specificity of the information gathered using the NIBRS system.
Here are some of the key differences between the two reporting methods:
Changes in offenses - Both NIBRS and UCR collect data on "crimes against persons" and "crimes against property" for such offenses as homicide, aggravated assault, rape, robbery, burglary, arson, auto theft, and others.
But unlike UCR, NIBRS also documents the additional category of "crimes against society" which do not actually involve an injured party or piece of property. These would include prohibitions against certain types of activity such as drugs, gambling, pornography, prostitution, and weapons law violations.
NIBRS also documents offenses such as animal cruelty, extortion, and identity theft.
Seriousness of offenses - NIBRS tends to show higher figures than UCR due to the manner in which offenses are counted.
UCR data recognizes the most serious offense committed during an incident, whereas NIBRS essentially eliminates the "hierarchy" of offenses, as officers can collect data on up to 10 criminal offenses within an incident.
For example, using the old UCR system, in a reported incident where a homicide occurs, but the actor also breaks into the home, vandalizes it, and then steals a vehicle to leave the crime scene, only the most serious offense of homicide would be reported. Using NIBRS, every offense would be included in one report, provided the offenses are separate and distinct crimes and each are mutually exclusive crimes.
Changes in crime classification - Under the old UCR system, offenses are categorized as Part I - serious crimes against persons and property - and Part II - all other non-miscellaneous offenses. These will be replaced by Group A and Group B offenses under NIBRS. Group A is comprised of more than 20 indexed crime categories, as opposed to the eight indexed offenses in the UCR. Officers will have to determine which category an offense belongs to in order to determine whether an arrest report or an incident report will be required.
Under UCR, attempted crimes are reported as crime. The new NIBRS system focuses on whether the crime was attempted or completed.
NIBRS does not allow duplicate offenses based on incident-based reporting (IBR) codes. For example, possession of cocaine and possession of heroin would qualify as one drug offense, not two. As mentioned previously, officers may report multiple offenses, provided they are separate and distinct crimes, each mutually exclusive.
Pittsburgh Police Acting Commander of Administration, Patrick Fosnaught, headed up the team that has been working since 2021 to build out the new records management and reporting system.
"With a great deal of assistance from our partners in Allegheny County, as well as help from other police agencies that are currently using the system, the team has worked to meet the more specific needs of the Pittsburgh Police through data input, design, and focused outputs. The new system will provide better data collection, upgraded functionality, improved performance, and enhanced search and investigative capabilities. All of these will allow officers to focus on police-related tasks, rather than spending valuable time on data entry and outdated processes," says Acting Commander Fosnaught.
It should be noted that each law enforcement agency's NIBRS system is tailored to the individual state's specifications. Data compiled by Pittsburgh Police, and ultimately reported to the FBI, is in accordance with guidelines required by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Source - CentralSquare