The Baltimore Police Department will use a new crime reporting system, joining law enforcement across the country, as part of a federally mandated change.
The passage to the National Incident Reporting System, which is mandated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, will increase the number of reported crimes. The new system requires law enforcement to report multiple crimes, up to 10, that could be associated with a single incident.
For example, a home burglary in which the burglar assaults a homeowner would result in the entry of at least two separate crimes, home burglary and homeowner assault.
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 offences, allows us to quickly get an overview of an incident, enables the collection of more detailed crime information, helps give context to specific crime problems, identifies patterns and crime in a timely manner and provides greater analytical flexibility of collected crime data,” he said.
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But Harrison said the change would increase the number of infractions.
“With the NIBRS, the number of reported crimes will seem higher than [in] the past for certain categories of offences. This does not mean that crime has increased. It just means that 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 provided NIBRS data to its Uniform Crime Reporting program. Baltimore County previously transition to the new system in February 2021 and launched an online dashboard with statistics.
City officials said the new police data will be released starting this spring, but did not give a specific launch date.
“This is part of a broader strategy to improve how we use data at all levels of city government, especially as it relates to the safety of our residents,” Mayor Brandon Scott said during the the press 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 the transition took us a long time, but we started last year,” he said.