Gary D. McAlvey, Former SEARCH Chairman and Organizational Pioneer, Dies

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Gary D. McAlvey
Mr. Gary D. McAlvey, a pioneering criminologist, former Chairman of the SEARCH Membership Group, and active leader in the early years of SEARCH, died Friday, March 25, 2011, in Illinois. He was 70.

Mr. McAlvey was a driving force behind the Illinois Bureau of Identification, where he was Bureau Chief within the Division of Forensic Services and Identification, Illinois State Police, and was instrumental in helping implement emerging technology in the field of forensics.

His involvement in SEARCH spanned the years between 1970 and 1994. In 1971, the State of Illinois formally joined Project SEARCH, which was created to develop a prototype computerized criminal history records system and to demonstrate the interstate exchange of this information.

Once SEARCH incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1974, Mr. McAlvey was elected the first Chairman of the SEARCH Membership Group and continued to serve as Illinois' governor-appointed representative to the group for another two decades. Of the 11 individuals who have served as Chairman of SEARCH in its 42-year history, he is the only one who served two sets of terms (1974-80 and 1984-88) and served the most number of nonconsecutive years.

At a SEARCH Symposium in the early 1970s, Gary D. McAlvey (left) is joined by then-Law Enforcement Assistance Administration Administrator Richard "Pete" Velde and SEARCH Executive Director O.J. Hawkins.
"As an organization, SEARCH owes much to the work done by the pioneering Members like Gary McAlvey," said SEARCH Executive Director Ronald P. Hawley. "The SEARCH Membership and Staff extends its condolences to Gary's family."

Mr. McAlvey was involved in some of SEARCH's earliest model standards work, including Technical Report No. 13, Standards for the Security and Privacy of Criminal Justice Information, in October 1975. The following year, the U.S. Department of Justice issued final regulations implementing the Crime Control Act of 1973--regulations that govern the security and privacy of local and state criminal history records and record systems. The regulations were based largely on SEARCH's comprehensive model standards set forth in Technical Report No. 13.

In a 1989 interview marking SEARCH's 20th year, Mr. McAlvey remembered the early 1970s as "a pretty exciting time to be Chairman," between the development of the federal regulations and the creation of computerized criminal history and other automated data systems nationwide.

In 1986, he was the second individual honored with the Board of Directors Award for Meritorious Service (now known as the Gary R. Cooper Meritorious Service Award). The award honors a SEARCH Member whose work in the field of criminal justice information systems, policy or statistics has been outstanding. With this award, the SEARCH Membership was able to recognize one of their colleagues for contributions both to the field of criminal justice information and to the success of SEARCH.

Mr. Owen Greenspan, Director of Law and Policy for SEARCH, is also a former SEARCH Member who represented New York State, and also served as Vice Chair of the Membership Group in the 1990s. He said, "To me, Gary McAlvey's past was SEARCH's future. I first met Gary as a newly appointed Member when he was nearing the end of his last term as Chair. SEARCH encourages participation and open discussion by its Members. These were hallmarks of his leadership whether as Chair or Member. He was a mentor to many of the Members. Most importantly, and characteristic of a tradition that continues today, he was always interested in what other states were doing and eagerly shared information about technology innovations and policy approaches in Illinois."

Mr. McAlvey graduated from Michigan State University and was an avid Spartan fan, holding season football tickets for many years. He was also a train enthusiast and in 2007, he fulfilled a quest to visit each of the 50 states.

Mr. McAlvey was born July 4, 1940, in Greenville, Michigan, and was married for 51 years to the former Anne Crase. In addition to his wife, Mr. McAlvey is survived by two daughters, two sons-in-law, four grandchildren, three brothers and a sister.

A memorial service will be held this summer (email for details). Donations to honor Gary's memory may be made to the following: