SEARCH Membership Holds Spring 2009 Meeting in Sacramento

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SEARCH kicked off its 40th anniversary year with a successful Spring Membership Group Meeting held April 14-16, 2009, in Sacramento, California. The meeting brought together SEARCH Members, Staff, and partners in the field.

The meeting included sessions and speakers that addressed current issues of concern to the criminal justice information management field; roundtable discussions that provided Members the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue; consideration of two resolutions; and a reception and dinner to celebrate SEARCH's 40 years of leadership in the justice and public safety field.

In a special address, Mr. Thomas C. "Tom" Sawyer, California Public Safety Liaison to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, welcomed the SEARCH Membership to California and wished them a productive meeting. Mr. Sawyer's appearance was arranged by SEARCH California Member Mr. Gary K. Cooper.

Tuesday, April 14
The first day's meeting included addresses by a panel of Federal agency partners from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), particularly discussions on critical issues impacting the states; a facilitated discussion of criminal history records information (CHRI) standards, certifications and accreditation; an update on current legislative activities of the U.S. Congress; and reports from officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART) Office.

  • Federal Partners Panel
    Mr. James H. Burch II, Acting Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. DOJ, teleconferenced into the meeting and gave the audience an overview of BJA goals and other elements of funding and the Recovery Act. He assured Members that BJA continues to strive to make programs and technology available and will not lose sight of partners in the field. He appreciates that BJA can do this through SEARCH, and said that the recently published Guide to Conducting Privacy Impact Assessments for State, Local, and Tribal Information Sharing Initiatives, which SEARCH prepared under BJA guidance and funding, is a good indication of the capability and capacity of SEARCH.

    Mr. Andy Dorr, Assistant Director, Grants Administration Division, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), U.S DOJ, discussed the COPS Hiring Recovery Program and other technology initiatives.

    Dr. Gerard F. Ramker, Associate Director for Statistical Planning, Policy and Operations, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), U.S. DOJ, gave an overview of the BJS National Crime Victimization Survey and talked about BJS continued support for State Statistical Analysis Centers.

  • CHRI Initiatives Discussion
    Practitioners in the field discussed improved data quality of criminal history record information, notably achieved through standards, certifications and accreditation.

    Mr. Phillip David Morgan, Fingerprint Examiner/Instructor with the FBI, gave an overview of the FBI Biometric Services Section certification process for fingerprint examiners. Ms. Catherine Aldrich, Executive Vice President of Accurate Background, Inc., discussed the goals and plans of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). And BJS official Dr. Gerard F. Ramker stressed that information quality from repositories is critical and said that BJS is reaching out to SEARCH and the Membership Group to work with the repositories to develop an accreditation program.

  • Washington Scene
    SEARCH General Counsel Mr. Robert R. Belair, Oldaker, Belair and Wittie, shared insights into the activities of the 111th Congress, and discussed appropriations and legislation.

  • FBI CJIS Division Report
    Asserting that biometrics are the most definitive, real-time identity management method currently available, Mr. Stephen L. Morris, Deputy Assistant Director, Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division, FBI, discussed the goals and accomplishments of the FBI Biometric Center of Excellence.

  • SMART Office Report
    Ms. Allison Turkel, Policy Advisor with the U.S. DOJ SMART Office, provided an update on the Office's work to implement the Adam Walsh Act. Title I of the Adam Walsh Act, titled the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), sets minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification in the United States. In many instances, these standards are stricter than those established by individual states. States that fail to comply with SORNA requirements by July 27, 2009, risk losing 10 percent of their funding under the federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grant. Ms. Turkel reported that many extensions to this deadline have been requested and granted.

    (Information provided by the SEARCH Membership in a recent survey on SORNA compliance, conducted at the request of U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), was shared with the SMART Office.)

Wednesday, April 15
The second day of the Spring Meeting gave SEARCH Staff the opportunity to highlight some of their important work to the Membership Group in three breakout sessions. It also featured a panel discussion of the FBI's Next Generation Identification Project, Membership roundtable discussions, and the discussion and passage of two resolutions.

  • SEARCH Programs Breakout Sessions
    SEARCH Programs Division Staff led three breakout sessions that focused on critical current initiatives and issues in the areas of information sharing, communications interoperability, and high-tech crimes investigations.

    Mr. Scott Came, Director of Systems and Technology, headed a discussion of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and potential opportunities for Members to utilize the SOA design approach to enhance information sharing initiatives.

    Mr. Doug Onhaizer, Director of Public Safety Programs, and Ms. Alecia Webb-Edgington, Public Safety Technology Specialist, discussed Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP), Interoperability and Next Generation 9-1-1.

    Mr. Rich Harris, Director of High-Tech Crime Training Services, along with his staff of High-Tech Crime Training Specialists, focused on three recent important accomplishments. Mr. Chris Armstrong gave an overview of online child pornography investigation techniques. Mr. Keith Daniels showed the capabilities of the SEARCH Investigative Toolbar, and Ms. Lauren Wagner demonstrated the MySpace Friend Mapper Tool, which assists in investigations of

  • Next Generation Identification
    Driven by advances in technology, customer requirements, and growing demand for Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) services, the FBI has initiated the Next Generation Identification (NGI) program.

    An overview of this program was presented by Mr. Nick Megna, Supervisory Management and Program Analyst, FBI CJIS Division; Ms. Allyson DeLaney, Management and Program Analyst, FBI CJIS Division; and Mr. John T. Loverude, Consultant, ATS Corporation assigned to the NGI project.

  • Resolutions
    The SEARCH Membership passed two resolutions at the meeting:
    1. Support of amendments to the National Child Protection Act.
    2. The National Criminal History Improvement Program. The resolution calls on Congress and the administration to give added priority to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) for the operation of the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) and asks that funding for NCHIP be restored to the level of at least FY 2005 appropriations.
    The resolutions will be posted to the SEARCH website in the near future.

Thursday, April 16
The final day of the Spring Meeting featured addresses by U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FBI officials, and a report of the Board of Directors to the Membership.

  • TSA Reports on HazMat and TWIC Programs
    Mr. Nathan Tsoi, Operations Officer, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. DHS, and Mr. Wilbur Rehmann, a TSA contractor (and former SEARCH Member), provided an update on the DHS's Hazardous Materials (HazMat) and Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) Programs.

  • Secure Communities Program
    Mr. Marc Rapp, Deputy Director, Secure Communities, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), DHS, and Mr. Tadgh Smith, Branch Chief with Secure Communities, gave an informational briefing on the efforts of criminal alien enforcement within the Secure Communities program.

  • N-DEx Access to CJIS
    Finally, three officials with the FBI CJIS Division provided highlights and updates to the FBI's Law Enforcement National Data Exchange (N-DEx) program, specifically how N-DEx is accessing other criminal justice information systems.

    The briefing was led by Ms. Ann Hall, Program Control Supervisor, N-DEx Program Office, and Ms. Rita Jo Willis, Regional Coordinator-Western District, N-DEx Program Office; and Mr. Brian Stump, Tribal Coordinator/N-DEx Trainer.

40th Anniversary Reception and Awards Dinner
On the evening of April 14, SEARCH held a reception and dinner to celebrate its 40th anniversary and to honor recipients of SEARCH awards.

The Honorable Doris O. Matsui (D-California), U.S. Representative, greeted guests during the reception and presented SEARCH with a page from the Congressional Record recognizing SEARCH's 40th anniversary. (See related article.)

SEARCH Executive Director Ronald P. Hawley served as master of ceremonies for the evening's program. After dinner, guests listened as current and former staff and Members reminisced about the first 40 years of SEARCH. Speakers included Mr. Gary R. Cooper (ret.), Executive Director, SEARCH; Mr. Robert L. Marx (ret.), Senior System Specialist, SEARCH; Mr. David J. Roberts, former Deputy Executive Director, SEARCH; Mr. Gerald E. Wethington, former SEARCH Chair; Mr. Robert Belair, SEARCH General Counsel; Dr. Charles Friel, SEARCH Member Emeritus; Mr. Kenneth Bischoff, former SEARCH Chair; and Mr. Jack Scheidegger, former SEARCH Member, California.

Captain Thomas W. Turner, Division Commander, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Virginia State Police, was presented with the 2009 Gary R. Cooper Meritorious Service Award by SEARCH Chairman Francis "Paco" Aumand.

Captain Turner has been a SEARCH Member for nine years, and Vice Chairman for the past five years. For more details on his award, see the Awards page.

SEARCH also honored Members and Staff for years of service. They were:
  • Mr. Carle Jackson, Louisiana Member, 20 years.
  • Mr. Jon Johnson, Manager of Information Systems, 20 years.
  • Mr. David Schade (Alaska), Mr. Leigh Middleditch (Maryland), Mr. Brad Truitt (Tennessee), and Ms. Jennifer Hemenway (Utah), 5 years.

SEARCH Staff Alecia Webb-Edgington chats with SEARCH Vice Chair Captain Thomas Turner during the 40th Anniversary reception.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), left, talks with SEARCH General Counsel Robert Belair (center), while (on right) SEARCH Executive Director Ronald Hawley and Finance Director Rose Marie Florita listen.

SEARCH High-Tech Crime Training Services Director Rich Harris (left), along with Deputy Executive Director Kelly Peters Harbitter, SEARCH Vice Chair Captain Tom Turner and SEARCH Chair Francis X. Aumand III listen to Congresswoman Doris Matsui, who had joined SEARCH staff, Members and guests at SEARCH's 40th anniversary reception on April 14.

SEARCH Members Paul Heppner (Georgia) and Dawn Peck (Idaho) socialize during the anniversary reception.

Hawaii Member Liane Moriyama (left) discusses issues with SMART Office Policy Advisor Allison Turkel, who had earlier that day addressed the SEARCH Membership Group.

Tennessee Member Brad Truitt shakes hands with Chairman Francis X. Aumand III, who hands him an award recognizing his 5 years as a SEARCH Member.

SEARCH Information Systems Manager Jon Johnson is handed a crystal award by Chairman Francis X. Aumand III in recognition of his 20 years on SEARCH staff.

Enjoying the 40th anniversary dinner event on April 14 are (clockwise from lower left) Francine Daniels and SEARCH Staff Lauren Wagner, Nina Byrom, Diane Chin, Rich Harris, Chris Armstrong, and Keith Daniels.