Nation's Capitol Site of 2009 SEARCH Annual Meeting

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The SEARCH Membership Group held its 2009 Annual Meeting November 16-18 in Washington, D.C.

The meeting included 2 days of presentations and discussions; Board of Director elections; and recognition of SEARCH's 40th anniversary. The meeting was attended by more than 100 justice and public safety officials, including 40 Members and Alternates, plus speakers, staff, and observers.

Download materials or presentations from the 2009 Annual Meeting »

Monday, November 16

The first day's meeting included —
  • addresses by a panel of Federal agency partners from the U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security (DHS), featuring discussions on critical issues impacting the states;
  • an update on current legislative activities of the U.S. Congress;
  • a presentation highlighting ongoing research conducted at Carnegie Mellon's Heinz College that provides empirical evidence on when an ex-offender has been clean long enough to be considered, for employment purposes, "redeemed";
  • a look at privacy protection policies within Michigan, Hawaii, and Vermont; and
  • a report from officials with the DOJ's Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART) Office.

Federal Partners Panel
Mr. Chris Essid, Director, Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), U.S. DHS, discussed the National Emergency Communications Plan and technical assistance and training efforts conducted by the OEC.

Mr. James H. Burch II, Acting Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. DOJ, gave the audience an overview of funding and the Recovery Act and discussed the priorities of the DOJ and the new Administration.

Dr. Gerard F. Ramker, Associate Director for Statistical Planning, Policy, and Operations, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), U.S. DOJ, gave a brief overview of the various statistical programs that BJS supports. He also talked about how the Administration's priorities and interests translate into the work at BJS. He concluded with an update on the status of the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) and grant funding for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Washington Scene Presentation
SEARCH General Counsel Robert R. Belair discussed the status of appropriations activity and federal funding for SEARCH in general. He also discussed the following pending Congressional legislation:
  • the National Criminal Justice Commission (S. 714);
  • Managing Arson Through Criminal History (MATCH) Act (H.R. 1727);
  • two bills dealing with allegedly duplicative state background checks (H.R. 2200 and H.R. 3619); and
  • the National Child Protection Act (H.R. 1469 and S. 1598).

Repositories and the Need for Redemption in Response to Stale Criminal History Records
SEARCH At-Large Member Dr. Alfred Blumstein, J. Erik Jonsson University Professor of Urban Systems and Operations Research, presented ongoing research conducted by Carnegie Mellon's Heinz College to estimate a point in time when an individual with a criminal record is at no greater risk of committing another crime than other individuals of the same age.

Mr. Kiminori Nakamura, a Ph.D. candidate with Carnegie Mellon's Heinz College, provided a statistical overview of the data analysis. An in-depth discussion of the findings and research methods were published in the May 2009 issue of Criminology.

SMART Office Report
Ms. Linda M. Baldwin, Director of the U.S. DOJ's SMART Office, presented an update on the status of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) and discussed SMART Office plans and strategies for getting all jurisdictions compliant with the Act. She was assisted by Ms. Dawn Doran, Deputy Director, SMART Office.

Privacy: Moving from Development to Implementation
SEARCH Michigan Member Ms. Diane Sherman, Director, Criminal Justice Information Center, Michigan State Police, discussed lessons learned in Michigan when the state created a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) guide.

For more on PIA development, see Guide to Conducting Privacy Impact Assessments for State, Local, and Tribal Information Sharing Initiatives, which SEARCH prepared under BJA funding and in collaboration with the Global Privacy and Information Quality Working Group of the U.S. DOJ's Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative.
SEARCH Hawaii Member Ms. Liane Moriyama, Administrator, Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center, Department of the Attorney General, gave an overview of the Hawaii Integrated Justice Information Sharing Program and talked about the importance of developing and implementing a PIA.

SEARCH Chairman Francis X. (Paco) Aumand III, Director, Criminal Justice Services, Vermont Department of Public Safety, gave Members an overview of the privacy protections within Vermont's information sharing systems.

Mr. Scott Came, Director of Systems and Technology at SEARCH, talked about implementing privacy policy.

Tuesday, November 17

The second day of the SEARCH Annual Meeting included breakout sessions; addresses by two special invited guests; a report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); elections; and Membership roundtable discussions.

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 cybercrime.

As a follow-up to a breakout session held at the April 2009 Membership Group meeting - where Members were introduced to potential opportunities for collaborating on tools and approaches for enabling justice information exchange at the State and local levels - SEARCH Systems and Technology Director Scott Came shared the progress that staff and the SEARCH Board of Directors have made in organizing these efforts.

Mr. Doug Onhaizer, Director of Public Safety Programs at SEARCH, and Ms. Mallorie Teubner, SEARCH Public Safety Technology Specialist, discussed plans for the establishment of a National Institute for Emergency Communications Interoperability.

Ms. Kelly Peters Harbitter, SEARCH Deputy Executive Director, and Mr. Richard Harris, Director of SEARCH High-Tech Crime Training Services, discussed the funding SEARCH has received to hold a national conference for practitioners within the cybercrime-fighting community. They shared initial planning ideas, and solicited advice on overall conference activities.

Address by the Assistant Attorney General for OJP
The Honorable Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), U.S. DOJ, discussed the priorities she sees at the Justice Department and within the Obama Administration. [link to ] These priorities include —
  • keeping an open dialogue with practitioners in the field;
  • ensuring that the Department supports basic social science research and works to expand its inventory of evidence-based approaches;
  • being more open and transparent in how they administer funding;
  • strengthening collaborations with other parts of the Department and the Executive Branch;
  • increasing engagement in Indian Country;
  • working to improve services to victims; and
  • working with the SMART Office to improve the management of sex offenders.

Address by United States Senator Patrick Leahy
The Honorable Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, praised SEARCH for its work in justice information management and talked about his role in securing funding for state and local law enforcement in light of the recent economic downturn.

He pointed out the importance of using technology to fight crime and encouraged information sharing across jurisdictions. He also applauded SEARCH Chair Francis X. Aumand III for his work at the Vermont Department of Public Safety, and said he relies heavily on Mr. Aumand for advice on justice information sharing issues.

FBI Presentation
Ms. Kimberly J. Del Greco, Supervisor of the Biometric Center at the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division, gave an overview of the FBI's vision for future trends in law enforcement, and the role that science and technology will play. The Biometric Center of Excellence (BCOE) is the FBI's hub for developing new and advanced biometric capabilities to solve crimes and protect national security.

Elections for the SEARCH Board of Directors
Elections were held for the SEARCH Board of Directors, with the following Members being elected or reelected to new terms: Mr. Robert Wessels (At-Large); Mr. Jeffrey Kellett (New Hampshire); Maj. Douglas Shelton (Indiana); Mr. David Steingraber (Wisconsin); and Ms. Judy Volk (North Dakota). (See related story.)

Wednesday, November 18

The final day of the Annual Meeting featured addresses by U.S. DHS and FBI officials, and a report of the Board of Directors to the Membership.

TSA Update
Two officials with the DHS's Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Mr. Nathan Tsoi, Operations Officer, HME Threat Assessment Program, and Ms. Cristin Finkel, Program Manager, Transportation Threat Assessment and Credentialing, provided an update on the DHS's Hazardous Materials (HazMat) and Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) Programs.

States' Implementation of N-DEx and IACP Outreach Effort Discussion
An FBI official, along with representatives from the FBI CJIS Law Enforcement National Data Exchange system (N-DEx) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police's N-DEx liaison program, discussed issues facing States in successfully implementing N-DEx, and how to best address those issues.

The panelists were Supervisory Special Agent Larry Jennings, FBI CJIS Division, and N-DEx Outreach Specialists Mr. David Gavin, Mr. P.K. O'Neill, and Lt. Patrick D. Fagin III. They also discussed recommendations on how to bring the message of N-DEx's value to all law enforcement agencies, and the role SEARCH can play.

Mr. O'Neill also led the Membership Group in a discussion of a SEARCH resolution supporting N-DEx as the national information sharing repository for law enforcement.

Resolution Discussions
The SEARCH Membership passed three resolutions at the meeting:
  1. Support for the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange (N-DEx) System as the National Information Sharing Repository for Law Enforcement.

  2. Support for the National Criminal Justice Commission Act. This bill, S. 714, would establish a National Criminal Justice Commission, charged with undertaking a comprehensive review of all areas of the criminal justice system, and making recommendations for changes in oversight, policies, and laws taking into account the financial and human resources of State and local governments.

  3. Support for the Managing Arson Through Criminal History (MATCH) Act. This bill, H.R. 1727, would establish guidelines and incentives for States to establish criminal arsonist and criminal bomber registries and to require the Attorney General to establish a national criminal arsonist and criminal bomber registry program.

The Membership Group also considered a fourth resolution, Separate Security Background Checks for Transportation Security Cards, which the Membership approved by electronic vote on January 12, 2010.

The NICS Improvement Amendments Act
Dr. Gerard F. Ramker, BJS, and Mr. Owen M. Greenspan, Director of Law and Policy at SEARCH, discussed the NICS Improvement Amendments Act (NIAA), which was enacted by Congress in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings to increase the number of records available to the NICS to prevent ineligible persons from obtaining firearms.

Mr. Greenspan gave a brief historical perspective of the Brady Act, the NICS, and the NCHIP. Dr. Ramker spoke about the NIAA and the report that the Attorney General is required to submit to Congress as a result. The panel also discussed the BJS/SEARCH NIAA Conference, which was held December 2009. (See related story.)

Special Events

40th Anniversary and O.J. Hawkins Award Reception
A reception marking SEARCH's 40th Anniversary was held in conjunction with the meeting and was attended by a host of honored guests, including U.S. Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA 5).

The congresswoman, who represents the district in California where SEARCH headquarters are located, presented SEARCH's Chairman with House Resolution 851, which honors SEARCH's four decades of contributions to justice and public safety nationally, including "for accomplishments to promote information sharing and identification solutions for first responders and law enforcement officers, and for the protection of privacy and citizens' rights." (See related story.)

Mr. Gerry Coleman, retired Director of the Crime Information Bureau (CIB), Wisconsin Department of Justice, was honored at the reception as the 2009 recipient of the O.J. Hawkins Award for Innovative Leadership and Outstanding Contributions in Criminal Justice Information Systems, Policy and Statistics. (See related story.)

SEARCH Deputy Executive Director Kelly Peters Harbitter also gave a presentation on the history of SEARCH, putting the past 40 years into a meaningful perspective.

Ms. Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, addressed the SEARCH Membership, discussing the department's priorities in the near future.

United States Senator Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vermont, addressed the SEARCH Membership, praising the organization and urging states to embrace justice information sharing.

N-DEx panelists included Mr. P.K. O'Neill (left) and Mr. David Gavin, both N-DEx Outreach Specialists, who discussed issues facing States in implementing the data exchange system.

SEARCH Chairman Francis X. Aumand III (left) and Vice Chairman Lt. Thomas Turner (right) congratulate Mr. Gerry Coleman after he is given the 2009 O.J. Hawkins Award.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui, D-CA 5, joined SEARCH's 40th Anniversary celebration on Capitol Hill Nov. 17, 2009, to present a House resolution recognizing SEARCH's milestone. With her are (from left) SEARCH Chairman Francis X. Aumand III, Vice Chairman Lt. Thomas Turner, and Executive Director Ronald P. Hawley, who is holding the resolution.