After the Webinar: Moving to NIBRS. Q&A with Dr. Sean Goodison

Webinar presenter Dr. Sean Goodison answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Moving to NIBRS: Insights into the Past, Present and Future of Incident-Based Reporting.  Here are just a few of his responses.



Audience Question: Are there any particular aspects of this change as far as you know that affect crime statistics required of higher education campuses by the Clery Act? 

Dr. Sean Goodison: That’s a good question. Actually, as part of my time in the DC had to work on a number of different Clery Act elements. I don’t think there’s a major change. I know there’s as I know that NIBRS can be converted back to summary reporting. So the question is if they are sticking with kind of the summary reporting statistics they’re obviously filtered down for the particular instances. That can be done with NIBRS. But at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised, there’s certainly some movement that I know even on Capitol Hill to once the there’s  NIBRS transition to depend potentially think about, you know, rethinking some of how crime is being reported itself. So, I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if there is some sort of potential change somewhere down the road that corresponds with NIBRS. But as of right now, I don’t believe there’s anything that’s going to directly impact any sort of the reporting things for Clery.



Audience Question: Are there any incentives to get agencies to implement NIBRS? 

Dr. Sean Goodison: Yeah, I think there are few first you have the NCS-X Program which has attempted to focus on some of the technical issues in the training. Stuff that you know that were giving police agencies some heartburn as time went on trying to resolve that. Now, in terms of the larger transition, one of I think the key incentive is being able to have this type of data be nationally representative. Now. It’s kind of a low-hanging incentive by saying if you contribute and rely on all others to help contribute. In the end, we can all have a good usable product. But at the same time, you know, there’s some certainly incentivization to have this type of information at one’s fingertips and to be able to have that type of comparison. And also that touches a little bit onto where I think there could be more incentives. Like I had just mentioned the geocoding element if there were central geocodes and ability to map and ability to tie all of that in. I think from a benefit it’s not necessarily direct incentive, but it’s certainly something that agencies could have a real windfall from to be able to compare different neighborhoods within jurisdictions or similarities and really just being able to improve that entire analysis side. From the agencies I’ve spoken to where they’ve seen the most benefit is being able to change up how they’re looking at crime, how they’re able to communicate that to their communities, to the media. So, in that sense, it’s their incentives that are not direct incentives in terms of something as directly offered and maintained but they are out of windfalls if you will.



Audience Question: We’re getting a couple of questions regarding access to researchers and the public. And so kind of consolidating those, the first part of the question is will all of the data be available to the public and then kind of the second part is where researchers be able to drill down and access actually the original reports? 

Dr. Sean Goodison: NIBRS data is available. You can get it kind of at the summary aggregate through that crime data explorer. You can request flat files and you can request and long forms from either the FBI directly and on actually I think crime data explorer gives you the option, you know, you reach out to a particular email address and I think that’s also covered in our in the 30 questions about NIBRS. The data also exist on ICPSR, on other areas in you know, their individual researchers who even take the time to kind of combine all the different files like you saw the administrative and the offense and the and the victim there are a lot of different reports that has to be merged together and it can be sometimes technically challenging and they’re being put together. A lot of it is obviously without strict identifying information. But again, that’s also a lot of what is naturally reported up through the federal government. NIBRS is not interested in who the individual, what their name is or anything like that, they’re interested in those data elements that you that you saw. So, that data is out there is available as I said, it can be sometimes challenging to work with and there are individuals who have make a little stock and trade at putting all the different parts together because it is much more complicated obviously than just a single table. You can download from the FBI, the number of homicides across all 50 states is a pretty simple straightforward table. But yeah that information is accessible and researchers do you use it? But the only challenge has been up until now and still through now is that the data is not necessarily representative of the nation. So, I’ve experienced a lot of research to look at homicide. I’ve done a lot of scholarly work in that area and they’ll look at NIBRS date because it has such incredible amounts of information behind it. Now homicide is also is somewhat unique in that for the summary reporting, it gives the count but then there’s also within the UCR umbrella supplemental homicide reports that provide a little bit more information, but it’s nothing compared to what NIBRS provides and researchers will access that data be able to do play with it and know which jurisdictions from and had a lot of rich data, but then when it comes to homicide the end results as well, this isn’t really nationally representative and all the largest agencies aren’t participating. So, it’s hard to say what our conclusion needs. So that’s kind of my only caveat when you’re thinking about accessing and going through the data server. If you’re looking at a trying to get a national snapshot that’s not really going to be possible right now. But if you’re looking at the crime within jurisdictions and what not. It can be a very useful tool. And a lot of agencies actually I’m thinking about Fairfax County in Virginia and Houston. They have correls in which you can access some of that. It’s probably somewhere in-between kind of a raw file and they an aggregate file, but you can be able to drill down a little bit more and you know and touch on some of those issues.



Audience Question: Given the fact that a single incident can result in multiple offense types being indicated. Can you share what education are the FBI and states doing to educate the public regarding that perceived increase in crime? I think he’s talking about the likelihood that it would seem like Numbers increasing but that’s just because the reporting mechanism is changed.

Dr. Sean Goodison: Yeah. And that is one of those key challenges/misconceptions that you put that information together. And obviously it looks like crime is increasing. The FBI has helped out. I know they link a few different research studies that I think one that comes to my mind is from a few years ago that looked at transition and see what types of the offenses went up and I think it is a moderate increase or something about 2% but then that’s still two percent and that that sound like that can be significant. So there are some tools, at least resources, through the FBI that I think they have highlighted some of the success stories that have looked at think about communications. They’re also going to be, I think as we are approaching 2021 and there are few things that are in the works that are touching on kind of almost best practices in terms of thinking about relating police performance and community expectations. That’s going to be a little more I think to get some real tangible advice. Really thinking about even leveraging social media and how you would be able to use those platforms to talk about the transition between your summary report in your very simple reporting and kind of this richer data format. And like I said, there are a number of agencies that are doing it and I think we’re starting to see that more of those or because that is a very important issue. I think that we’re going to see more of those are coming forward. And at least a report to that spec will be coming down the pipe.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Moving to NIBRS: Insights into the Past, Present and Future of Incident-Based Reporting. 


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