Reports for Law Enforcement: The Next Steps
NIBRS data exist for many reasons, not the least of which is their value to those who produce it - the law enforcement agencies. If we demonstrate their value to them by tailoring reports using NIBRS data to suit the needs of law enforcement officials, and surprising them by showing them what is possible, we may have to run to keep up with its implementation rather than push to keep it going.
We know there are more unknowns with these data than knowns at this time. We have begun to work with select agencies to produce reports, see how they compare with expectations, see how useful they are, and develop a set of reports which is useful and engenders confidence. These initial steps aim to verify the data in the NIBRS reports as well as to find out what types of reports agencies find useful.
We must move slowly at first to avoid the "units of count" traps and other possible traps. We must be knowledgeable of what is known about NIBRS data quality and what is unknown. But we must move ahead to put the superior data quality of NIBRS to use for our contributors and for others in the public domain.