CRIME REPORTING GETS UPDATE 

New system is based on actual incidents.

Next month, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) will release 2001 crime statistics reported by all law-enforcement agencies in the state. It will use an incident-based system instead of the traditional summary system.

The new Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System (TIBRS) is drastically different from the old Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system used by the FBI to publish its annual crime statistics. The UCR system applies a hierarchical rule to offenses and only collects information on the most serious offense connected with an incident and drops any others. Such a system only reports information on eight types of crimes, and only arrest information is reported on other offenses, including drug possession, forgery, and fraud.

TIBRS collects information on up to 10 offenses attached to an incident, including 22 Group A offenses made up of 47 specific crimes. Arrests are reported for 11 Group B offense categories. The new system views a crime and all of its components as an "incident." Information is collected on the circumstances, victims, offenders, property, and arrestees. There is no felony and misdemeanor classification in the TIBRS system. As another important addition to the new system, TIBRS will include juvenile cases.

The TIBRS report will also provide information on domestic violence, gang crime, the time and location of an incident, and any victim/offender relationships.

Offenses will be counted according to the FBI's practices and standards and will be classified into three categories -- crimes against persons, crimes against society, and crimes against property. Each victim in the crimes-against-persons category -- including homicide, assault, sex offenses, and kidnapping -- will equal one offense. For example, an aggravated assault that involves two victims will be counted as two aggravated assaults.

In the case of crimes against society, mostly drug violations, each offense counts as one occurrence, as do crimes against property. Motor-vehicle thefts are the exception. If two automobiles are stolen in one incident, two thefts will be reported.

TBI staff attorney Jeanne Broadwell warns citizens not to compare 2000's UCR numbers with the 2001 TIBRS report. "The numbers will look different and be much higher," says Broadwell. "Don't panic. New crime rates cannot be compared to old data. Trend information will not be available until the 2002 publication."

In the 2001 publication, each of the 409 law-enforcement agencies that report to the TBI will be represented. The document will list reported offenses, and the agency's success will be determined by the number of those offenses that have been cleared. Clearance means an arrest has been made or an arrest cannot be made but the offender has been identified.

While Tennessee law-enforcement agencies have been recording crimes based on the TIBRS format for more than five years, the 2001 Crime in Tennessee report will be the first to depict the statistics in TIBRS format. The report will be available on the TBI Web site, www.tbi.state.tn.us.

Shelby County district attorney Bill Gibbons' annual report, released last week for 2001, used TIBRS data. The report listed a decrease in domestic violence cases and DUI charges but showed an increase in weapons charges, crimes against property, and the truancy rate.

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