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Law enforcement and the National Violent Death Reporting System: a partnership in the making
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  1. J C Friday
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr J C Friday
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, Mailstop K-60, Atlanta, GA, 30341 USA; jxf1{at}cdc.gov

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“Police agencies throughout the country are realizing the potential of comprehensive, integrated databases for crime fighting and crime prevention. Using data more effectively allows police to do their job better in protecting and defending the citizenry.” Daniel B Bibel, Crime Reporting Unit, Massachusetts State Police

The above quote1 provides a backdrop for the importance to law enforcement of comprehensive and integrated databases, such as the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). The NVDRS can aid law enforcement’s efforts to design community level interventions, thereby ultimately reducing crime. Similarly the NVDRS can aid in the development and implementation of strategies to prevent injury and protect and improve health.

Collaboration with law enforcement provides public health agencies with increased access to violent death data otherwise unavailable to them. In turn, through collaboration with public health agencies, law enforcement can obtain a more comprehensive view of violent deaths. Case information provided by coroners and medical examiners, death certificates, and child fatality review teams can supplement data routinely collected by law enforcement, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s Supplementary Homicide Reports, trace information of firearms gathered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), crime lab case files, state and local police reports, and other investigative records. States that participate in the NVDRS, however, currently collect information from four primary data sources: death certificates, medical examiner/coroner records, law enforcement record, and crime laboratory records. Over time, additional sources that are particularly useful for specific kinds of death may be added to the system.2 A comprehensive view of data from all sources is necessary to fully understand violent deaths in the US.

This commentary contains a brief description of the benefits of collaboration between law enforcement and public health in the implementation and utilization of the NVDRS. It contains …

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