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Differences Between CFS and Charge Based Reporting

Calls for Service (CFS) Reports are a record of every incident a Police Department responds to in a given year. These include both 911 calls and officer-initiated events. An individual record usually includes the incident type, priority, time and date of call, time and date of police response, incident location, the disposition and much more.

The data stored in these reports are a raw account of the incident from the responder’s perspective, without the editing of a records officer. This allows a variety of reports to be created from the raw data included in these record environments. CFS reports can be assigned a number of codes to properly categorize the incident type, which can then be mapped to National Crime Information Center (NCIC) codes for nationally uniform
records keeping standards. NCIC is a computerized index of criminal justice information, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so agencies can easily access nationally available information to assist them in their operations.

In addition to NCIC, the FBI also maintains the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which began in the 1920s under UCR Reports, established by the IACP. Throughout the years, the need for more detailed crime reporting became apparent, and the FBI began to develop what is now known as NIBRS reports. As of the beginning of 2021, all agencies are currently required to use NIBRS reports for collecting and reporting crime-incident data to the FBI. ProPhoenix has been working closely with all of our user agencies to help bring them into compliance, and of course our entire software system has been designed to more easily comply with the NIBRS protocol.

For agencies using CFS reports, ProPhoenix software allows CFS codes to be translated to NIBRS codes for proper reporting, but there is an additional step involved. CFS codes that are mapped to NCIC codes must then be mapped to NIBRS codes from the NCIC codes. This of course creates an extra step in the process, and the accuracy suffers.

For these reasons, we are encouraging our user agencies to use what is known as Charge Based Reporting. Agencies who report in this manner do not need the additional step of matching codes, as the codes will be linked directly to NIBRS from the initial report. Several of our agencies are currently using Charge Based Reporting with great success. We recently spoke with Long Dinh, IT Specialist from Menomonee Falls Police Department, about his experience with Charged Based Reporting. Dinh says, “I can only speak for our department. The main reasons we chose Charge Based Reporting are accuracy and ease of maintenance. There is less maintenance involved in Charge Based Reporting as opposed to CFS Reporting, by eliminating the steps to map the CFS codes to the charges and then to the NIBRS Codes and keeping track of them.”

Another aspect that Dinh mentioned is that the report process is easier to manage regarding NIBRS compliance from beginning to end with this reporting type. As the records officer is guided through the process, the officer is alerted to any NIBRS errors requiring correction in that step of the report. “Charge Based Reporting guides us to correct errors and be more accurate with NIBRS from the initial report.”

NIBRS is not going anywhere, and all agencies should be in compliance as of the date of this repost. We feel that Charge Based Reporting is the easiest, cleanest, and quickest way to report to NIBRS from the onset of the report.

Please note that this is a repost from a previous ProPhoenix blog post from July 2021, and reposting here for informational reasons.