Congressman Addresses SEARCH Members at 2007 Winter Membership Group Meeting

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U.S. Representative Chris Cannon (R-Utah)
U.S. Representative Chris Cannon (R-Utah) addressed the biannual meeting of the SEARCH Membership Group in Arlington, Virginia, on February 14, 2007, sharing his experiences representing Utah's Third Congressional District.

Rep. Cannon's remarks opened the second day of the Membership Group's Winter Meeting, which also featured a panel of representatives from U.S. Justice Department agencies and an update by SEARCH General Counsel Robert Belair on legislative developments in Congress.

On hand to elaborate upon Mr. Belair's presentation and to answer Members' questions was Ms. Jessica Berry, Project Director for U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont).

The Justice Department panel included Mr. Domingo S. Herraiz, Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance; Dr. Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics; and Mr. Ron Laney, Associate Administrator of the Child Protective Division for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The meeting concluded with a presentation by Mr. Christopher Miles, Senior Program Manager of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ) Information and Sensors Technology Division, on NIJ's efforts to develop a fast-capture fingerprinting device.

The first day of the 2007 Winter Membership Group Meeting, February 13, provided SEARCH Members with the opportunity to visit key legislative representatives on Capitol Hill. The meetings were designed to educate members of Congress on issues of importance to SEARCH.

While on "the Hill," several SEARCH Members and staff had the opportunity to present U.S. Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) with the 2006 O.J. Hawkins Award for Innovative Leadership and Outstanding Contributions in Criminal Justice Information Systems, Policy and Statistics in the United States.

The award formally recognizes an individual's service, dedication and contributions that have improved the justice community's ability to develop and use criminal justice information. Named for SEARCH's first executive director, the O.J. Hawkins Award is the only nationally recognized, competitive award for contributions in the field of criminal justice information management.

Sen. Byrd, who has represented West Virginia in the Senate for nearly 50 years, was recognized for his lengthy record of strong leadership and advocacy of crucial criminal justice information and identification technology programs, as well as criminal justice assistance initiatives.

The two-day Membership Group Meeting was preceded by a one-day workshop on February 12 that examined issues raised by the recently released Attorney General's Report on Criminal History Background Checks.

The Attorney General's June 2006 report reviews existing criminal justice information exchange processes, policies, laws and infrastructures in the United States and recommends certain changes that, if implemented, could lead to a significant departure from the current methods used to conduct criminal record-based background screening.

Workshop panels examined report recommendations on expanding access to criminal history record information, privacy, screening standards and suitability criteria. Panelists included representatives from the federal government, the private sector, privacy and advocacy groups, and nonprofit organizations.

The next SEARCH Membership Group Meeting is scheduled for July 2007 in Portland, Oregon.