The Boulder County Sheriff's Office is the only law enforcement agency in Colorado that has not yet transitioned to an FBI-developed, state-mandated crime reporting system.
Now, with grant funding possibly on the line, Sheriff Joe Pelle is seeking to hire a full-time employee next year to manage data entry and perform quality control as his department works to catch up with the rest of the state.
"I'm told by the people managing this that without an extra person, they won't be able to make it happen," Pelle said of the transition to the National Incident-Based Reporting System in a meeting with the Boulder County commissioners last week. "The fact that we are not reporting our crime data to the state now has made us ineligible to receive grants administered by the state."
Pelle filed a request with the county's budget office to add one full-time civilian position within his office's records section in 2015 at a cost of $55,066.
His department has already invested $57,000 in the software needed to transition to NIBRS but now needs people to make sure the system works properly.
A state law adopted in 2012 mandated that all law enforcement agencies in Colorado begin using NIBRS by the end of 2013, Pelle said.
Susan Medina, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, confirmed the Boulder County Sheriff's Office is the last law enforcement agency in the state to file reports in the NIBRS format.
Her agency is required by law to compile the annual Crime in Colorado report, including statistics from agencies across the state filed through NIBRS. Boulder County's data was not recorded in the 2013 Crime in Colorado report because "crime statistics were not received by the CBI for this jurisdiction," according to the online posting of the report.
According to an FBI fact sheet provided by Medina, NIBRS is viewed as an upgrade over previous uniform crime reporting systems because it catalogues more detailed, accurate and meaningful data, which can then be offered up in a comprehensive way allowing agencies to find similarities in criminal activity they are seeing and work together to solve those problems.
"One of the primary benefits of NIBRS reporting is that it provides a comprehensive review of a criminal event," Medina said.
One of the reasons the Boulder County Sheriff's Office is so far behind, Pelle said, is that his office had just invested in a new internal records management system that was not NIBRS-compatible before it became clear the NIBRS would be the new state standard. Several years have passed since then, Pelle said, and his office is ready for an across-the-board upgrade.
"Now, we're updating our system and as we're doing so we are adding the NIBRS component," he said. "I think we'll probably be up and running mid-year next year."
Pelle noted that the statutory deadline for having NIBRS in place was the end of 2013, so his office has been ineligible for state-administered grant money for a short time. The agency has received a couple of federal grants during that period, Pelle said.
"It hasn't cost us so far," he said. "But we need to be able to submit our crime data to the state ... and we need to be grant-eligible. It's just time to get this done."
Louisville Police Chief David Hayes was the deputy chief in charge of administrative services for the Boulder Police Department when that agency transferred over to NIBRS a few years ago, he said.
"It wasn't without some pain," Hayes said. "I think it improves the solvability of crimes, but it is more labor-intensive."
Pelle noted that the NIBRS reports require deputies to fill out 37 information fields on the face sheet of every report, which provides extra detail but can be time-consuming.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.