The Baltimore Police Department will use a new crime reporting system, joining law enforcement agencies across the country, in a change required by the federal government.
The transition to the National Incident-Based Reporting System, which is mandated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, will increase the number of crimes reported. The new system requires law enforcement to report multiple crimes, up to 10, that might be associated with a single incident.
For example, a burglary at a home in which the burglar assaults a homeowner would result in the entry of at least two separate crimes, the burglary of the home and the assault of the homeowner.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison touted the changes at a news conference Wednesday, saying the new system will improve data collection.
“This new reporting system provides greater specificity in reporting offenses, enables us to quickly see the bigger picture of an incident, allows for the collection of more detailed crime-related information, helps give context to specific crime issues, identifies patterns and crime in a timely manner and affords greater analytic flexibility of the crime data collected,” he said.
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But Harrison said the change will increase the number of offenses.
“With NIBRS, reported crime numbers will seem higher than [in] the past for certain offences categories. This does not mean crime has increased. It just means the way crimes are reported has changed, allowing us to fight crime more effectively,” he said.
Previously, under the FBI’s Summary Reporting System, the same incident would have required local law enforcement to report only the most serious offense.
In 2020, the FBI said 9,880 law enforcement agencies have provided NIBRS data to its Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Baltimore County previously transitioned to the new system in February 2021 and launched an online dashboard with stats.
City officials said the new police data will be posted starting later this spring but didn’t give a launch date.
“This is part of a large strategy to enhance the way that we use data across all levels of city government, especially in regards to the safety of our residents,” Mayor Brandon Scott said at the news conference.
Harrison said the city began the transition last year, and since then, the department has invested in technology such as a new records management system. “We have new technology, but it has taken us time to transition, but we started last year,” he said.