National Violent Death Reporting System

National Violent Death Reporting System

 Law enforcement can gain a deeper understanding of the circumstances of violent deaths by engaging with the National Violent Death Reporting System.

The IACP is partnered with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to gain valuable knowledge surrounding a violent death through the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). This system is hosted by the CDC to work with states across the nation to collect and analyze annual data on cases of violent death.  

NVDRS is the only state-based online reporting system in the United States that combines data on violent deaths and their circumstances from multiple sources into a single, anonymous database. Linking the details of violent deaths – the “who, when, where, and how” – can provide insights into “why” those incidents occurred. These details and data points can assist law enforcement in prioritizing their resources for public safety, understanding crime patterns, and improving community collaborations for violence prevention.

The goal of NVDRS is to create safer and healthier communities, and law enforcement participation in NVDRS fosters a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of violent deaths.  

Data submissions from law enforcement agencies play a vital role in the success of NVDRS:

  • The depth of law enforcement information, particularly information on the circumstances of an incident, is critical to fully understanding each event.
  • Law enforcement reports may be the only source that can document aspects of incidents such as multiple death events, firearm trace information, or details not collected in supplementary homicide reports.
  • Information collected from multiple source documents is not always consistent. Law enforcement report data can often be used to resolve inconsistencies.  

Law enforcement agencies interested in submitting data to NVDRS can learn more from the CDC here.  

What can NVDRS data do for law enforcement?

Data Source: CDC’s NVDRS Factsheet, CDC Assault or Homicide Factsheet, CDC Suicide Data and Statistics

Using NVDRS can benefit police agencies operationally and logistically: 
•    Examining emerging issues
•    Revealing patterns of violent deaths through geographic analysis
•    Focusing violence prevention initiatives
•    Gaining a greater understanding of violent crime
•    Deploying law enforcement resources more effectively
•    Developing stronger, more targeted crime policies
•    Using public safety resources more effectively to support healthier, safer communities.

To learn more about how law enforcement can benefit from using NVDRS, download the CDC’s NVDRS and Law Enforcement Factsheet.
 

 

NVDRS Data Collection

NVDRS began collecting data in 2003 from six states. Data collection for NVDRS was expanded to include all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico by 2018.

NVDRS uses information from law enforcement reports, death certificates, and coroner/medical examiner reports (including toxicology), to monitor and characterize violent deaths – including homicide, suicide, deaths of undetermined intent, legal intervention (excluding executions), and unintentional firearm-related deaths. Over 600 unique data elements are collected, providing contextual information on violent death incidents. Data elements include relationship problems; mental health problems and treatment; and life stressors, such as recent job problems, finances, or physical health. Information about the incident is collected, such as weapons used; injury characteristics; characteristics of suspects, locations where the incident occurred; and summary narratives of the incident based upon the law enforcement and coroner/medical examiner reports.

The NVDRS is also expanding data collection to examine the circumstance and other contextual factors for suicide amongst law enforcement and other public safety professionals (e.g., firefighters, emergency medical service clinicians, and public safety telecommunicators). In 2022 the CDC created a Public Safety Officer Suicide Reporting module, which will build upon elements collected as part of the current NVDRS data system from the required source documents (e.g., death certificates, coroner/medical examiner reports, law enforcement reports) and will include information specific to the first responder community. These data metrics will provide opportunities to better understand suicide fatalities and the circumstances around those fatalities among first responders. The IACP also has a vast amount of resources on Officer Safety and Wellness, which can be accessed here.

Agencies can access NVDRS data from the CDC at the national and state level free of charge from the Web-based Injury Statistics and Query System (WISQARS), or request access to more detailed data from the NVDRS Restricted Access Database (RAD). These reports and data access options are located here.

Law enforcement officers can provide detailed reports on violent incidents in their jurisdiction to their state NVDRS database. For more information on NVDRS and data access, please visit the CDC webpage.

NVDRS Data Protections

Since the start of NVDRS in 2002, there have been no reported data breaches of the data system's confidentiality or security. When participating states enter data into NVDRS, it is done through an encrypted, web-based system and up-to-date security protocols. No personally identifying information is collected in the web-based system.

IACP and NVDRS

The IACP is committed to promoting awareness of NVDRS to IACP members and the profession at large. Engaging with the NVDRS is a tool that law enforcement agencies can use to improve and implement strategies to reduce violent deaths in their community. Below are some examples of IACP resources concerning NVDRS:

IACP Resolutions
•  Support of National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) – 2017
•  Support of National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) – 2010  

Police Chief Magazine Articles on NVDRS
•  Police Chief Magazine: “The National Violent Death Reporting System: The Critical Law Enforcement Component": (https://www.policechiefmagazine.org/the-national-violent-death-reporting-system-the-critical-law-enforcement-component/

Policing and Public Health

Supporting the National Violent Death Reporting System is part of IACP’s Public Health-Informed Policing (PHIP) Initiative. Police encounter public health issues daily: violence, substance use, homelessness, behavioral health crises, and pandemic-related challenges, among many others. Police are increasingly expected to deal with social ills but are often not provided with adequate resources or support from other agencies.

Police, community, and government agencies are jointly responsible for addressing social ills. Police agencies can benefit from a PHIP framework as it increases agency effectiveness via evidence-based practices and force multiplying partnerships.  This approach can help to develop effective, data-driven policies and decisions and support a system-wide approach to address complex issues to create sustainable strategies.  

To review IACP’s PHIP resources, access the website at https://www.theiacp.org/publichealth or contact PublicHealth@theIACP.org

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