Bad FBI Crime Data Reporting May Render Crime Data Useless

( Nearly 40% of law enforcement agencies, including the New York City Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, failed to disclose their 2021 crime data to the FBI.

This will lead to a data gap that experts say makes it more challenging to examine crime patterns and fact-check assertions about crime by politicians, according to Weihua Li of The Marshall Project.

The FBI’s annual data set, which counts the number of murders, rapes, and arrests made last year, is the nation’s most important tool for analyzing how crime is evolving throughout the United States.

According to Princeton University criminologist Jacob Kaplan, it will be tough for policymakers to look at what crime looks like in their town and compare it to similar places.

According to John Roman, a senior fellow at the University of Chicago’s NORC,
police can be more efficient the more specific the data is. Numbers from 2021 won’t be beneficial when they look back on it.

The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which collects more detailed information on each incident, replaced the FBI’s almost century-old national crime data collection program last year.

Nearly 7,000 of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the US did not provide crime data to the voluntary program in 2021, despite the FBI having announced the shift years earlier and the federal government spending hundreds of millions of dollars to assist local police in making the switch.

Most of those who failed to comply with the request for crime statistics attributed it to staffing shortages and technical difficulties.

Before its new reporting systems went live in April of last year, the Philadelphia Police Department could not gather NIBRS data. According to PPD Sgt. Eric Gripp, the pandemic made the “huge project delay” to modernize its legacy systems much worse.

The state of Iowa’s system, which transmits data to the FBI, was incompatible with the new records management system the Des Moines Police Department used. According to DMPD, Sgt. Paul Parizek, transferring over documents required a manual repair, but there wasn’t enough staff to complete it in time.

Since the decision to convert to NIBRS was made public in 2015, law enforcement organizations countrywide have gotten more than $160 million in federal money to assist with the changeover.

According to Dale King of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the state’s greater reporting rate is due to the state’s shift to the NIBRS system in the 1990s.

King, who works with the state data system, collaborated with the FBI to publish an article cautioning states to prepare for the NIBRS transition as soon as possible.
According to the report, agencies that wait until 2021 to start their transition efforts will probably find the process far more challenging than if they had begun their transition activities earlier.

The midterm elections this autumn are expected to focus heavily on violent crime throughout America, and many politicians will utilize inaccurate statistics to support their positions.