Tuesday, February 27, 2024

New crime reporting system will likely show increase in crimes across the state

The current system of crime reporting lists only one offense per incident, leading to underreporting of certain crimes.

Part one crime in Wilmington is at an all-time low according to the 2018 WPD annual crime report (Port City Daily/Courtesy WPD)

WILMINGTON — The Wilmington Police Department’s current reporting requirements only require one crime per incident, even if multiple offenses are committed. Now, there’s a new crime reporting system being implemented by the FBI and the SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) and the Wilmington Police Department is ready to implement it, but don’t be surprised when crime statistics seem to go up.

On Monday, Chief of Police Ralph Evangelous gave a presentation to City Council explaining how the new reporting system will work and affect the city.

Summary reporting, the system that had been in use up until 2019, was implemented in 1930 and grouped crimes into Part I and Part II. It also only required one crime to be reported per incident report, meaning even if several crimes were committed at one time, the police only had to list one of them.

In other words, according to the FBI, “if a murder and a robbery happen in the same incident, then the hierarchy rule dictates SRS will only count the murder.” For this reason, the FBI states that SRS figures can only be understood as partial and approximate (the FBI is retiring the system at the end of next year).

The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), on the other hand, was implemented in 1989 and groups crimes into two different categories, Group A and Group B, according to Evangelous’ presentation. Also, one incident report can have up to 10 Group A crimes reported.

City Councilman Paul Lawler addressed the new crime reporting tool on his campaign social media page saying, “The first thing you’ll see is bigger numbers in our crime reports. More crimes are included as ‘Part A’ crimes in NIBRS than were included in the old ‘Part I’ crimes. i.e. assault used to just cover Aggravated Assault. Now it will include Simple Assault. Also, a crime incident will now count all the crimes (up to 10). Under the old system, only one crime per incident was counted. Our numbers will look worse but we’ll have a more complete picture of what’s going on out there.”

The NIBRS system is currently in effect so it will not be until next year when crime statistics are released that we will be able to compare the number of reported crimes to those of the past.

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