Police chief: Crime statistics may rise under new reporting system

Crime will be going up in Riverhead soon, and it won’t be entirely due to criminals. 

“The state now wants us to count things a little different from the way we’ve been counting,” Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said at a Town Board work session last Thursday.

Town police in November began moving over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Incident Based Reporting System to report crimes to state and federal agencies. 

The town will be moving away from the current system, called Uniform Crime Reporting, which the chief said has been in effect his entire career. 

The different is that UCR doesn’t count all crimes and NIBRS does. 

Under UCR, for example, if there was a burglary and burglar’s tools were used, that would only be one charge — the burglary.

Under NIBRS, both the burglary and the possession of burglar’s tools would be reported separately.

“NIBRS wants you to report every single thing,” Chief Hegermiller told councilmembers at the work sesson.. 

NIBRS is expected to replace UCR everywhere, he said. 

“It’s going to increase our numbers,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said. 

The change, which the town began using in November, has already increased the town’s numbers.  

From November to December, the number of summonses jumped from 294 to 725.

In addition, arrests increased from 42 to 93 in those two months.

In December, with NIBRS in place, there were 93 arrests, but only 81 people arrested, according to the chief.  

Asked by Ms. Aguiar if he supports the change, the Chief said, “I think somethings might have been missed by UCR.” He also said it might help in pointing out trends.

NIBRS claims on its website that “NIBRS captures details on each single crime incident — as well as on separate offenses within the same incident.”

It also claims that “unlike data reported though the UCR Program’s traditional Summary Reporting System — an aggregate monthly tally of crimes — NIBRS goes deeper because of its ability to provide circumstance and context for crimes like location, time of day and whether the incident was cleared.” 

The FBI has made nationwide implementation of NIBRS a top priority, according to NIBRS’ web site.