The Washington Police Department is utilizing a new crime reporting system that will be required for all departments. 

Beginning Feb. 1, the department began using the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), according to Police Chief Ed Menefee.

He explained NIBRS is an upgrade from the previously used Uniform Crime Reported (UCR).

Menefee said the NIBRS replaces UCR as the new standard of reporting, and the department must be certified in the system by Jan. 1, 2021, in order to continue to receive federal grant funding.  

Departments that don’t use NIBRS by the deadline will no longer be eligible for U.S. Justice Department grants.

NIBRS is designed to provide reports of incidents police departments handle. 

NIBRS will provide a more detailed look at crimes, “rather than big lumps,” Menefee said.

For example, the new system will break down assaults into specific categories.

“NIBRS is more picky,” Menefee said. “There are more variations of assault so we have a better idea of what is actually going on.”

The difference is a more specific description of an incident. Under UCR each incident was given a nine-digit code.

For assaults, it would include if there was a weapon used, if it was domestic, or other specifics. 

Under NIBRS, incidents are now logged with a 17-digit charge code. The longer code paints a more specific picture of the incident.

According to the FBI, the detailed information collected through NIBRS includes, “incident date and time, whether reported offenses were attempted or completed, expanded victim types, relationships of victims to offenders and offenses, demographic details, location data, property descriptions, drug types and quantities, the offender’s suspected use of drugs or alcohol, the involvement of gang activity, and whether a computer was used in the commission of the crime.” 

The FBI reported the new system “offers more context and allows law enforcement agencies to use resources more strategically to prevent and combat crime.”

Menefee noted departments utilizing NIBRS must score a 96 percent success rate with the new reporting system for three consecutive months to become NIBRS certified.

If the department scores below that during the three-month time frame, it is required to start over.

“That’s why we are trying to get this done early,” Menefee said. 

The city of Union began using NIBRS last year.