SEARCH Holds 2010 Annual Membership Group Meeting in Vermont

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The Membership Group of SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics, recently held its 2010 annual meeting at the Sheraton Burlington Hotel & Conference Center in Burlington, Vermont, July 27-29. The SEARCH Board of Directors also met the afternoon of July 29.

The meeting included 2 1/2 days of presentations and discussions and was attended by nearly 100 justice and public safety officials, including 40 Members and Alternates, plus speakers, staff, and observers. The meeting agenda featured presentations by Federal partners, collaborative organizations and SEARCH staff.

In addition, the Membership held elections to select a new Chair and Vice Chair, as well as fill vacancies on the Board of Directors. They also passed a resolution surrounding NICS Improvement Amendments Act (NIAA) Funding. Finally, an awards dinner on July 27 honored the 2010 recipients of SEARCH's highest awards.

(Download materials or presentations from the 2010 Annual Meeting.)

Tuesday, July 27Wednesday, July 28Thursday, July 29

Tuesday, July 27

The meeting's first day included-
  • welcoming remarks by Vermont Governor Jim Douglas and Mr. Thomas R. Tremblay, Commissioner, Vermont Department of Public Safety;
  • an update on current legislative activities of the U.S. Congress;
  • an update from SEARCH staff on the impact of our activities on justice and public safety agencies in the field;
  • an address by a Federal agency partner from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), featuring discussion on critical issues impacting the states;
  • a report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Justice Information Services Division (FBI CJIS);
  • an overview of information sharing in corrections;
  • an awards dinner honoring the 2010 SEARCH award recipients.

Washington Scene
SEARCH General Counsel Robert R. Belair discussed the status of appropriations activity and federal funding for SEARCH in general, and reviewed pending Congressional legislation.

SEARCH Impact in the Field
SEARCH Deputy Executive Director Kelly Harbitter spoke about some of the work that staff is doing in the field to impact justice information sharing. She outlined three themes that drive their work today: 1) Partnerships with collaborative organizations, as well as Federal partners and states; 2) Practical approaches to effective information sharing-finding areas where SEARCH can fill in the gaps and implement directly in the field; 3) Pioneering in many areas, including broadband, fusion centers, reentry, terrorist screening, Indian country, and high-tech crime.

Mr. Scott Came, Director of SEARCH's Systems and Technology Program, gave an example of how his team is partnering, using practical approaches and pioneering by helping to pilot some information exchanges between the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) and fusion centers. The TSC maintains the U.S. government's Terrorist Watchlist database and provides watchlist information to many stakeholders, including fusion centers. By bringing together the Global Justice Reference Architecture (JRA), the Global Services Task Team (STT), and five fusion centers, it became possible for the TSC to send information about watchlist and counter confirmations back to local law enforcement.

Mr. Came explained that through its participation on Global, SEARCH staff have been leaders in developing the JRA, which is one of the leading products that Global has produced over the last couple of years. The SEARCH Membership, in partnership with SEARCH staff, also have been leaders in implementing the JRA. In particular, both the States of Maine and Hawaii have been leaders in demonstrating how to use the JRA to improve information sharing. He added that the Global STT is the operational arm of the JRA effort. In the STT, some information exchanges, or some key business processes, have been chosen to actually use the JRA to build off-the-shelf reusable pieces that practitioners in the field can use directly.

Mr. David Bishop, Director of SEARCH's High-Tech Crime Training Services Program, reported that his team is using the partnership-practical approaches-pioneering philosophy to guide their work as well. He explained that the four core high-tech crime training courses that SEARCH provides continue to be in high demand and fill a need for law enforcement. He also talked about how his team has been expanding its offering of training services:
  • SEARCH High-Tech Crime Training Services now has an online presence, supplementing classroom training with student preparation before the classes begin. This is intended to build a foundation and prepare students for the highly technical material that follows in the classroom setting. The online courses are a collaborative effort with other training providers funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), including Fox Valley and NW3C, the National White Collar Crime Center.
  • Advances made in peer-to-peer (P2P) investigations have opened the door to new areas for course development. SEARCH is setting its training apart from the industry standard by not only teaching how to capture those involved in exchanging child pornography, but also adding an additional element to the P2P instruction that measures success based on saves or rescues of abused children.
  • As a result of recent changes in case law with regard to wireless access points and how law enforcement can access those, SEARCH is going to enhance its Advanced Responders: Search and Seizure of Networks course to teach law enforcement how to identify rogue wireless access points.
  • More tools are becoming available to help front-end patrol and law enforcement capture data from cellular devices; the next component is the physical component of analyzing cellular devices. According to Mr. Bishop, "The current SEARCH course [Core Skills for the Investigation of Cellular Devices] still has plenty of momentum, but now we will be capturing the entire spectrum of cell phone data recovery and analysis."
  • Another course under development includes teaching high-tech crime interview and interrogation techniques. One of three vendors in this arena has agreed to work with SEARCH in developing a course for law enforcement that would augment SEARCH's four other high-tech crime courses.
  • Working with the U.S. DOJ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), SEARCH will hold an E-Crimes Summit in 2011, bringing together as many as 500 practitioners and professionals to begin developing some standardized approaches to how to deal with electronic crime in our society. The Summit will be a high-profile look at how to address high-tech crime training for law enforcement in the field, continuing through the adjudication process.

Mr. Owen Greenspan, Director of SEARCH's Law and Policy Program, spoke about the advantages of having SEARCH staff visit and assess Members' agencies. He stated that through technical assistance and training, SEARCH can point out potential consequences, provide guidance, and propose solutions.

One area where the Law and Policy team will offer its assistance will be in Indian Country. SEARCH, along with the U.S. DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Idaho State Police, convened a Tribal Information Sharing Meeting in Post Falls, Idaho, on August 24, 2010. Mr. Greenspan thanked SEARCH Idaho Member Ms. Dawn Peck for the major role she played in organizing the meeting. Ms. Peck is the Manager of the Bureau of Identification for the Idaho State Police.

The meeting brought together leaders and justice officials from local Tribes, local justice officials from jurisdictions adjacent to the Tribes' jurisdictions, and Idaho state-level justice representatives. Other attendees included officials from the U.S. Attorney's Office, as well as officials from the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and National Law Enforcement Data Exchange (N-DEx) programs.

The meeting explored ways to improve information sharing capabilities, allowing national databases to benefit from increased Tribal contributions and tribal jurisdictions to benefit from expanded access to state and national databases.

Mr. Greenspan is hoping to hold several more of these meetings in Indian Country this year and throughout 2011. (Plans are under way to hold two meetings in Oklahoma in October 2010.)

Ms. Harbitter gave an update on SEARCH's Public Safety Programs (PSP), on behalf of PSP Director Doug Onhaizer, who was unable to attend. She discussed a request SEARCH received from the COPS Office on behalf of the Attorney General to hold a meeting to document the operational requirements of law enforcement for broadband.

With the national public safety broadband capability coming soon, the COPS Office is looking for definitive, accepted and vetted operational requirements of what law enforcement, and eventually more broadly public safety, will want or need out of the broadband capabilities when it does roll out.

The National Forum on Public Safety Broadband Needs, held August 19-20, 2010, in Washington, D.C., will begin documenting those requirements. The requirements and other useful information will be included in a report that goes directly to the Attorney General.

As for the forum attendees, COPS Office Director Bernard Melekian asked SEARCH to focus on individuals representing the 21 cities that got FCC waivers to move forward on their broadband initiatives. A partial list of cities/jurisdictions that participated in the broadband forum are Boston, Massachusetts; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chesapeake, Virginia; the District of Columbia; Los Angeles, California; Mesa, Arizona; the State of New Mexico; New York City; San Antonio, Texas; San Jose, California; Seattle, Washington; and the State of Wisconsin.

James P. Lynch
Federal Partners Panel
Dr. James P. Lynch, who was confirmed June 22, 2010, by the U.S. Senate as Director of the BJS, gave the Membership Group an overview of the Bureau's goals. He discussed the findings of the National Academy of Science review, which was published last spring and provided a good overview of BJS. He also talked about funding, including of criminal history improvement, NICS and Statistical Analysis Centers programs.

FBI Biometrics Center of Excellence (BCOE)
Ms. Kimberly Del Greco, Special Agent, FBI CJIS, provided an update on the BCOE and highlighted some issues that will be coming to the states.

Kimberly Del Greco
She discussed White House policies and said that strengthening policy around biometrics will improve the ability to collaborate. She shared some insights about the operational value of biometrics, as well as new potential identification tools the FBI is developing.

Overview of Information Sharing in the Correctional Arena
Consistent with the recent interest of the SEARCH Membership to explore partnerships with a broader range of organizations with common interests and goals, SEARCH invited members of the Corrections Technology Association (CTA) to share how they are exploring ways to better coordinate and share data in the broader justice community.

The panel included Mr. Robert Brinson, Chief Information Officer (CIO), North Carolina Department of Correction; Mr. Thomas Herzog, Deputy Commissioner and CIO, New York Department of Correction; and Ms. Kathy Gattin, Past President, CTA, Senior Project Manager, IJIS Institute. Mr. Dennis DeBacco, SEARCH Justice Information Services Specialist, facilitated the discussion.

Mr. Brinson spoke about the current problems and challenges that the corrections community is dealing with and explained the needs of corrections. Mr. Herzog discussed similar concerns from his state and touched on two examples in New York State where under custody and release information is being exchanged actively with law enforcement. Ms. Gattin spoke to reentry programs and information sharing initiatives that she's actively engaged in, including a collaborative effort by SEARCH, the IJIS Institute, the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA), and the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA).

Awards Dinner
Tuesday evening, SEARCH held its annual awards reception and dinner. Both recipients of this year's highest honors were in attendance.

  • Thomas E. Bush
    O.J. Hawkins Award
    Mr. Thomas E. Bush, III, Assistant Director (retired), FBI CJIS Division, received the 2010 O.J. Hawkins Award for Innovative Leadership and Outstanding Contributions in Criminal Justice Information Systems, Policy and Statistics in the United States.

    Mr. Bush was nominated for this award by two previous recipients of the O.J. Hawkins Award - Mr. Roy Weise, Senior Advisor to the CJIS Division, and Mr. David Loesch, former Assistant Director of CJIS.

    He was specifically acknowledged for the major achievements of his 33-year career at the FBI, including his work in developing and maintaining the infrastructure of many critical national information sharing systems. On a more personal level, he was recognized for always being extremely helpful and generous with his time, his expertise, and his willingness to bring people together.

  • Mike Lesko
    Cooper Award
    The recipient of the 2010 Gary R. Cooper Meritorious Service Award was Texas Member Mr. Mike Lesko. A SEARCH Member since 2003, Mr. Lesko is the Deputy Assistant Director of the Crime Records Service division at the Texas Department of Public Safety.

    Mr. Lesko was recognized for his strong leadership qualities and a willingness to actively participate as a Member or Chair of numerous internal and external committees, including a wide range of SEARCH Task Forces, the FBI National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact Council, and especially the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Advisory Policy Board. On the APB, he serves in leadership positions, such as Chairing a SAFE Act Task Force that is working to create a methodology for processing criminal background checks for mortgage loan originators that meets the needs of both the industry and the states.

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Wednesday, July 28

Member and Staff Recognition
The following Members and Staff were recognized for their years of service to SEARCH:
  • 10 years, SEARCH Member
    • Mr. Delton Tipton, Manager, Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, South Dakota Bureau of Information and Telecommunications
    • Captain Thomas W. Turner, Division Commander, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Virginia State Police

  • 5 years, SEARCH Member
    • Mr. Jeffrey Kellett, Chief Administrator, Criminal Records Unit, New Hampshire State Police
    • Ms. Debbie McKinney, Administrative Programs Officer, Information Services Division, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
    • Ms. Judy Volk, Information Services Manager, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, North Dakota Office of Attorney General
    • Mr. Karl W. Wilmes, Manager, Program Support Unit, Colorado Bureau of Investigation

  • 15 years, SEARCH Staff
    • Mr. Owen M. Greenspan, Director, Law and Policy

  • 5 years, SEARCH Staff
    • Ms. Nina K. Byrom, Administrative Assistant
    • Mr. Benjamin R. Krauss, Public Safety Technology Specialist
    • Mr. Mark D. Perbix, Justice Information Systems Specialist

Breakout Sessions
Members spent much of the day in breakout sessions designed to give them the opportunity to work in small groups and engage in discussion. The agenda included the following three breakout sessions:
  • Data Quality - Improving Our Product
    Members were given an update on activities of the Advisory Committee to SEARCH's BJS-funded Repository Records and Reporting Quality Assurance Program. Facilitators: Mr. Dennis DeBacco and Mr. Owen Greenspan.

  • SEARCH Communications - Key to Educational Efforts
    In this session, Members were given background information for three resolutions that were under consideration. They also discussed different strategies to use for educating governors, Congress, decision makers, and others about SEARCH. Facilitators: Mr. Robert R. Belair and Ms. Kelly J. Harbitter.

  • The Future - Examination and Exploration
    Members discussed issues and concerns regarding information sharing efforts in their states. Facilitators: Mr. Scott Came and Mr. Ronald P. Hawley, SEARCH Executive Director

Members elected a new Chair and Vice Chair, and five new Members joined the Board of Directors. See related story for complete election results.

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Thursday, July 29

N-DEx Demonstration
Mr. Jim Baker, N-DEx Outreach Consultant for the North Central Region, International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) gave an update on the data loaded into N-DEx and reported on the progress being made. He discussed the N-DEx/One DOJ Sharing Network and talked about the projected N-DEx participants. Mr. Damon Villella, FBI Supervisory Special Agent, gave the audience a live demonstration of N-DEx. He showed how to do an advanced search and then narrow that down to focus on a topic; he also demonstrated how results can be filtered.

Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative

Michael Milstead
Sheriff Michael Milstead of Minnehaha County, South Dakota, and Member of the Global Privacy and Information Quality Working Group, spoke about the Global initiative, and encouraged Members to become familiar with the many products that are available from Global. He said officials in law enforcement and local government need to look to their states as leaders who can help in determining information sharing and technology purchases. He also spoke about the capabilities of some of the information sharing networks that he utilizes, and stressed their importance for state and local law enforcement.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Update
Mr. Nathan Tsoi, Operations Officer, TSA, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), provided an update on TSA's efforts to work with the states to resolve technical issues surrounding TSA's ability to obtain states' criminal history information necessary to adjudicate cases for TSA applicants. He said TSA has investigated receiving forwarded rap sheet information in a type of standardized format such as NIEM or XML from different states. They've also discussed other possibilities and continue to investigate those solutions as they continue to modernize at TSA.

Mr. Tsoi also discussed state fees, and how TSA must decide which states to query for rap sheet information. Using the example of a commercial drivers licensee who holds a hazmat endorsement, he said it's probably the most common sense to query the state repository where that particular driver has been licensed. But in the example of somebody like a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) holder, who may be very transient while working in multiple ports, the issue of obtaining multiple states' raps sheets, along with any associated state fees, becomes a tricky one. This leads to further complication, because many of the credentialed threat assessments are bound by rule to a certain dollar amount.

Finally, Mr. Tsoi gave a brief overview of the DHS's current Universal Fee project. Sometimes referred to as the Standardized Vetting Rule, or the Vetting, Adjudication, and Redress Process and Fees Rule, the new rule is designed to reduce any kind of redundant fee and provide comparability through fees and adjudication wherever possible. The estimated timeline for publication of the rule is 2012.

Ms. Tammy McCarron, Director of Operations, Transportation Threat Assessment and Credentialing, TSA, gave a high-level overview of the security threat assessment process and what TSA does to adjudicate these cases for individuals seeking a credential or privilege. The adjudication center currently oversees the aviation worker program, the indirect air carrier, hazmat, and TWIC.

Mr. Wilbur Rehmann, SEARCH Member (Retired), and a DHS Consultant, facilitated this panel and provided insight into the dilemma that TSA faces when it comes to accessing state criminal history record information.

The DHS Law Enforcement Information Sharing Initiative (LEISI)
Mr. James W. Buckley, Supervisory Special Agent, FBI-CJIS Liaison, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, DHS, shared the key guiding concepts of the LEISI, including a move by DHS from "need to know" to "responsibility to share." He also talked about the LEISI services and the information being shared under the initiative. The LEISI has as its mission the objective to "Transform the DHS Enforcement Information Sharing Environment to integrate culture, governance, business processes, and technologies across the Department and with external partners to ensure the right information is delivered to the right person(s) at the right time in the right way."

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