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Many Louisiana law enforcement agencies arent reporting crime statistics

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(The Center Square) — Less than 70% of Louisiana’s law enforcement agencies are reporting crime statistics to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and a new report explains why that number isn’t higher.

Louisiana Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack issued a performance report on uniform crime reporting in Louisiana last week, ahead of an extraordinary session focused on crime that began Monday and runs through March 11.

Auditors reviewed how crime statistics are reported by local law enforcement agencies to the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and the FBI, as well as challenges facing those that don’t.

Law enforcement agencies in Louisiana collect crime data using a records management system and send the data to the Louisiana Incident-Based Reporting System at the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association’s data center. The data is vetted by LIBERS before it’s stored in a central database, converted to the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System format and electronically submitted to the FBI.

The submitted information is important because it’s used to award federal justice funding through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant program, which sent $2.7 million to Louisiana in 2022.

The FBI transitioned to NIBRS in 2021, which came with a requirement to submit more comprehensive data and resulted in a decline in reporting nationwide.

“Unlike some other states, Louisiana did not require agencies to submit NIBRS crime data prior to the federal requirement,” auditors wrote.

“Approximately 256 (68.4%) of 374 local law enforcement agencies reported NIBRS crime data to the FBI in 2022. This includes agencies that report their crime data through another agency’s records management system,” the report read. “Most agencies that did not report are actively working towards LIBRS certification.

“However, funding and resource constraints, the complexity of the NIBRS reporting process, and upgrading to a records management system that is LIBRS compliant are implementation challenges that have limited the number of agencies reporting NIBRS crime data.”

Louisiana follows behind many other states that prepared for the FBI’s NIBRS transition, including 30 states and the District of Columbia with NIBRS certification rates of 98% or higher as of May 2023.

“According to the FBI, 60.2% of total law enforcement agencies in Louisiana reported in 2022, but this likely does not include smaller agencies that report through another agency,” auditors wrote. “The FBI’s reporting number does include large agencies (Lafayette, Shreveport, and New Orleans) that the FBI allowed to submit” using the prior format in 2022.

Officials with the Lafayette, Shreveport, and New Orleans police departments told the LLA they’re in the process of setting up their records management systems to become LIBRS certified. This process can take several years. Lafayette and New Orleans are still in the process of obtaining a vendor for their systems, while Shreveport “is in the final stages of an internal test development phase to ensure it is NIBRS compliant,” according to the report.

Other findings show 29, or 7.8% of the state’s 374 law enforcement agencies, were not LIBRS certified and their data was not submitted to the FBI. Another 89 did not submit any crime data. A total of 53 agencies are working toward certification, while 38 are not as of November 2023, according to the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement.

While nearly all of the 38 are working on resolving issues with converting to a LIBRS-compatible system, according to the report.

“Only one police department stated that it uses a manual reporting process and does not have plans on reporting through an RMS or becoming LIBRS certified because it has very few arrests to report,” auditors wrote.