Pennsylvania Boosts Crime Reporting with $10 Million in Federal Grants for NIBRS Compliance

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HARRISBURG, PA — In a significant move to enhance crime reporting and analysis across the state, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) has announced a $10 million grant initiative funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The grants are designed to facilitate the transition of local law enforcement agencies to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) standard for crime data collection and reporting.

Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, who also serves as PCCD chair, highlighted the central role of accurate crime data in addressing gun violence and other public safety issues. The Pennsylvania state budget for 2024-25 includes a comprehensive strategy to combat gun violence, which relies heavily on detailed crime data. Davis expressed hope that the new funding would encourage more local law enforcement agencies to adopt NIBRS, thereby improving the scope and accuracy of crime statistics available to policymakers and the public.

As of January 1, 2021, NIBRS has been the national standard for reporting crime data in the United States, replacing the previous Summary Reporting System (SRS). NIBRS provides a more detailed account of criminal incidents, including information on victims, offenders, arrestees, and property involved in crimes. This granularity allows for a deeper understanding of crime trends and patterns, which is essential for effective law enforcement and public safety strategies.

Despite the advantages of NIBRS, Pennsylvania lags behind many states in its adoption. Currently, only 42 percent of the state’s population is covered by police departments utilizing NIBRS, with just 10 percent of local law enforcement agencies reporting through the system. This gap significantly hinders the ability to conduct real-time analysis and accurately capture crime trends at both the statewide and jurisdiction-specific levels.

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PCCD Executive Director Mike Pennington emphasized the challenges faced due to the low adoption rate of NIBRS in Pennsylvania. The comprehensive data captured by NIBRS can greatly improve the accuracy of crime reporting and facilitate real-time trend analysis, thus enabling the PCCD to better understand and address the issues facing communities throughout the state.

Eligible applicants for the grant funding include local law enforcement agencies, campus police, railroad and airport authority police, and county park police. The grants, which PCCD expects will fund approximately 50 projects with budgets up to $200,000 each over a two-year period, can be used for the software, hardware, and training necessary to implement NIBRS-compliant record management systems.

Priority consideration will be given to agencies serving areas with high levels of violent crime and low clearance rates. This targeted approach aims to bolster crime reporting and analysis capabilities in the most affected communities, thereby supporting broader efforts to ensure public safety and reduce crime across Pennsylvania.

The initiative represents a critical step forward in the state’s efforts to modernize its crime reporting infrastructure and provide law enforcement, policymakers, and the public with the detailed information needed to tackle crime effectively. With the application process set to close on June 5, 2024, Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies have a pivotal opportunity to enhance their crime data reporting capabilities and contribute to a safer, more informed Commonwealth.

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