Florida slow to switch to new FBI crime reporting system

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Data: FBI, The Marshall Project; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios Visuals (Note: Chart includes agency turnout data compiled by the FBI through February 7, 2022, which was the deadline for local agencies to submit crime data for their report of the fourth quarter 2021. Local agencies had until March 7, 2022 to submit data for the FBI’s 2021 National Crime Report, so final participation status may change.)

According to information provided to Axios by The Marshall Projecta criminal justice watchdog organization.

Why is this important: Florida was part of a trend that will lead to a lack of data that experts say makes it harder to analyze crime trends and verify politicians’ claims about crime.

  • “It’s going to be very difficult for policy makers to see what crime looks like in their own community and compare it to similar communities,” Jacob Kaplan, a criminologist at Princeton University, told the Marshall Project.

The big picture: Nearly 40% of law enforcement agencies nationwide, including departments in New York, Los Angeles and the entire state of California, did not submit any data for 2021.

The backdrop: Last year, the FBI retired its nearly century-old national crime data collection program and switched to a new system, the National Incident Reporting System (NIBRS), which gathers more specific information about each incident.

  • The FBI announced the transition years ago and the federal government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help local police make the switch, but nearly 7,000 of the nation’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies aren’t. did not send 2021 crime data to the voluntary program.

Enlarge: The state agency orchestrating the transition — the Florida Department of Law Enforcement — told Axios it will begin publishing detailed crime data using the new system later this year.

  • “Florida is in transition,” FDLE spokesman Jeremy Burns told Axios. “For a few years, abstract-based and incident-based reports will be reported.”

Rollback: Since 1971, state agencies have used what are called summary-based reports, capturing only the seven most serious crimes.

And after: The new system, called the Florida Incident Based Reporting Systemwill gather much more information about each crime than previous summary-based reports.

  • For example, if a suspect commits burglary, motor vehicle theft, and aggravated assault, all three crimes will be reported. Under the old system, only the most serious crime was reported.
  • It is also even broader than the NIBRS, collecting information on several state-specific categories of criminal offenses.
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