SEARCH Honors Gerry Coleman with 2009 O.J. Hawkins Award

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Mr. Gerry Coleman
SEARCH is pleased to announce the 2009 recipient of its highest honor, the O.J. Hawkins Award for Innovative Leadership and Outstanding Contributions in Criminal Justice Information Systems, Policy and Statistics.

The 2009 honoree is Mr. Gerry Coleman, retired Director of the Crime Information Bureau (CIB), Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Mr. Coleman was given his award in a surprise announcement made at a reception marking SEARCH's 40th Anniversary, held in Washington, D.C., on November 17, 2009. The reception was held in conjunction with SEARCH's 2009 Annual Membership Group Meeting and was attended by a host of honored guests, including U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA).

Mr. Coleman was selected for the award by the SEARCH Board of Directors at its April 2009 meeting. Known as "the Godfather of justice XML," he is being honored for his three decades of work and commitment to supporting technology use in the justice community and for his leadership at the State and national levels.


Mr. Gerry Coleman thanks the SEARCH Membership as he accepts the 2009 O.J. Hawkins Award at a reception November 17, 2009, in Washington, D.C.
SEARCH hands out the Hawkins Award each year to formally acknowledge an individual's service, dedication and contributions that have improved the justice community's ability to develop and use criminal justice information. In particular, recipients of the O.J. Hawkins Award have made outstanding contributions that have a broad-ranging impact, often affecting multiple states, justice disciplines or branches of government.

Mr. Coleman retired in July 2008 as Director of the CIB, and for many years served as Wisconsin's Alternate to the SEARCH Membership Group, attending many group meetings and providing colleagues with the benefit of his guidance and wisdom.

Prior to his retirement, Mr. Coleman had spent a 32-year career in Information Technology with the State of Wisconsin. The last 25 years of these were spent at the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Crime Information Bureau, where he rose through the ranks.

As Bureau Director, Mr. Coleman was responsible for Wisconsin's law enforcement computer network, state criminal record repository, stolen vehicle and wanted persons files, fingerprint identification, and the handgun hotline.

His leadership has left a legacy at the Wisconsin Department of Justice that will benefit the organization for many years to come.

Yet Mr. Coleman's contributions were not limited to the borders of Wisconsin. During his career, Mr. Coleman rightly became recognized as a national technology leader. For example, Mr. Coleman-
  • Was the FBI/CJIS and Nlets Systems Officer for Wisconsin
  • Chaired Wisconsin's Justice Integration Technical Committee
  • Served as Past President of Nlets
  • Chaired the Joint Task Force for Rap Sheet Standardization, during which he lead an effort that provided an important technical review of the FBI NCIC Information Exchange Package
  • Chaired the Global Security Architecture Subcommittee
  • Served on the FBI's NCIC and Identification Services Subcommittees, and
  • Chaired the XML workgroup advising the NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, on revisions to the fingerprint transmission standard.

He also chaired the ANSI-NIST XML Workgroup, which recently promulgated the "Part 2" version that defines XML formatting applicable to the 2007 ANSI-NIST standard for exchange of biometric information. Mr. Coleman did the bulk of the technical writing of the Part 2 standard.

In fact, Mr. Coleman has participated in information sharing standards development for close to two decades, promoting the use of XML in justice information sharing.

Under his leadership, Wisconsin has been a trailblazer in implementing XML and service-oriented architecture and sharing lessons learned. His dedicated quest for a better method for sharing justice information resulted in Mr. Coleman being known by many as the "Godfather of justice XML."

Mr. Coleman continues to make a contribution both as a consultant and mentor to those who continue the effort to develop, use and share criminal justice information. Just last year, Mr. Coleman was given the First Annual Justice Information Sharing Practitioners Network Beacon Award at the 27th annual NAJIS conference in Las Vegas.

"To add to all his accomplishments, Gerry is well known for his characteristic, thoughtful manner and style - and for his wry sense of humor. It should also entertain you to know that Gerry was once a part-time dairy farmer. This might explain Gerry's apparent fascination with Holstein cows, to which anyone who has ever seen one of Gerry's PowerPoint presentations can attest," noted SEARCH Chairman Francis X. (Paco) Aumand III.

Chairman Aumand also noted Mr. Coleman's penchant for self-teaching. He is a self-taught pianist and pool shark. He received a fiddle as a 40th birthday gift and taught himself to play it. He became good enough to spend time as a musician playing in several bands, including the Black Diamond Band and the Old-Time Fiddlers.

Mr. Coleman was nominated for the award by SEARCH Wisconsin Member David Steingraber, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance.

In his nomination letter, Mr. Steingraber noted, "There is no practitioner, past or present, that has contributed as much in the way of technical and business focused leadership to support the goals of justice information sharing in our nation. Gerry Coleman is truly a worthy recipient of the O.J. Hawkins Award."

Earlier this year, SEARCH handed out its other annual award, the Gary R. Cooper Meritorious Service Award, which was awarded to Captain Thomas Turner, Division Commander, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Virginia State Police. Read about it on our Awards page.


SEARCH leadership, Staff, and past recipients of the O.J. Hawkins Award flank 2009 Hawkins Award recipient Gerry Coleman at a reception November 17, 2009, in Washington, D.C. They are (from left) Executive Director Ronald Hawley, Deputy Executive Director Kelly Peters Harbitter, Mr. Roy Weise (Hawkins recipient, 2007), Mr. David Loesch (Hawkins recipient, 2002), Mr. Richard "Pete" Velde (Hawkins recipient, 1990), Mr. Patrick J. Doyle (Hawkins recipient, 1995), Mr. Gary R. Cooper (former SEARCH Executive Director and Hawkins recipient, 2003), and SEARCH Chairman Francis X. (Paco) Aumand.