SEARCH Holds 2011 Winter Membership Group Meeting Near Nation's Capital

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The Membership Group of SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics, held its 2011 winter meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, Virginia, on January 25-27. The SEARCH Board of Directors also met the afternoon of January 27.

The meeting included 2 1/2 days of presentations and discussions and was attended by nearly 90 justice and public safety officials, including 36 Members and Alternates, plus speakers, staff, and observers. The meeting agenda featured presentations by Federal partners, collaborative organizations, and SEARCH Members and staff.

In addition, a reception on January 25 honored Mr. Francis X. Aumand III, the 2011 recipient of the Gary R. Cooper Meritorious Service Award.

(Download materials or presentations from the 2011 Winter Meeting.)

January 25January 26January 27

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Congressman Jim Moran
The meeting's first day included—
  • welcoming remarks by Chief M. Douglas Scott, Arlington Police Department, and Major Robert Tavenner, Virginia State Police;
  • an address by Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA, 8th District);
  • an update on current legislative activities of the U.S. Congress;
  • an address by Federal agency partners from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), featuring discussion on critical issues impacting the states;
  • an overview of three state information sharing projects;
  • an introduction to the Rap Sheet Guide for the United States;
  • a briefing from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Office of Information Sharing; and
  • a reception honoring the 2011 SEARCH Cooper Award recipient.

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.

Bureau of Justice Statistics: A Brief on the Value of Operational Systems for Analysis

Dr. James P. Lynch, Director, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), Office of Justice Programs, U.S. DOJ, talked about his strategy since becoming the director at BJS. He described how he balances the challenge of remaining topical and being able to inform on issues that people care about now, versus remaining consistent by continuing to build infrastructure. He stated that one way BJS is doing this is to supplement the infrastructure. Specifically, he gave an example of how BJS is now incorporating questions about identity theft and stalking--issues that are of concern to many people--into the National Crime Victimization Survey. Dr. Lynch also shared five initiatives that have high priority at BJS:
1) Redesign the National Crime Victimization Survey;
2) Build the capacity to use operational data for statistical purposes;
3) Improve prosecution and adjudication statistics;
4) Reentry; and
5) Re-do the law enforcement management and administrative statistics.

Dr. Gerard Ramker (left) and Dr. Howard Snyder
Dr. Howard N. Snyder, Chief, Recidivism, Reentry and Special Projects Unit, BJS, talked about how the bureau has been using administrative data for research for years, but that the environment has now changed. Today, technology exists to make the process of producing the information much faster, easier, and more useful. He shared details about three recidivism studies that are in place at BJS that use this new technology, stating that one of their ultimate goals is to be able to look at state-specific information.

Dr. Gerard F. Ramker, Deputy Director, BJS, talked about how BJS is considering tapping into existing operational databases to describe the flow of people from arrest through ultimate release from correctional supervision. He said that state and Federal government investments in criminal history information systems have yielded the opportunity to support a different approach to describing the operation of these systems. He said that the potential now exists to couple event information with prior criminal history, making information available much more quickly about persons who are being taken into custody.

Bureau of Justice Assistance Briefing

Mr. James H. Burch, Acting Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. DOJ, acknowledged the work of SEARCH Members and staff, stating that BJA relies on this information sharing and data capacity work to fulfill its efforts to be more effective and efficient. He also stressed the importance of cost savings, and how to achieve these savings without sacrificing outcomes.

Information Sharing Initiatives Within the States of Maryland and New York

SEARCH New York Member Ms. Anne Roest, Deputy Commissioner/Chief Information Officer (CIO), Office of Justice Information Systems, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), gave an overview of two justice information sharing initiatives within the State of New York.
  • Under the first initiative, the DCJS has established four regional Crime Analysis Centers (CAC), which provide a centrally located unit from which to conduct in-depth analysis of county crime incident data. These CACs have proven to be very popular among the jurisdictions that are sharing information to reduce victimization, prevent crime, and improve law enforcement in a cost-effective manner.
  • The second initiative, the eJusticeNY Integrated Justice Portal Project, is a statewide effort to improve the administration of justice by providing authorized users with quick, secure, and easy access to all available public safety and criminal justice information.

SEARCH Maryland Member Mr. Ron Brothers, CIO, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, spoke about the Cross Borders Initiative, which is an effort that allows intelligence data to be shared among Maryland and the neighboring States of New York and Virginia, and the District of Columbia. This joint initiative allows the states to share daily arrest information, thereby enabling each state to keep tabs on new arrests of its parolees and probationers.

The Rap Sheet Guide for the United States

Mr. Paul Heppner, Senior Program Analyst, U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), discussed the Rap Sheet Guide for the United States, a cooperative effort between OPM and the states. Rap sheets vary from each state, and oftentimes fields may appear to be identical but in fact have different meanings. The purpose of the guide is to help OPM agents, state partners, and other customers who access and interpret rap sheets. Under the plan, each state agrees to work with OPM to create a tool in the form of an Excel spreadsheet that explains each field in the state's rap sheet.

Briefing from the FBI's Office of Information Sharing

Dr. C. Elaine Cummins, Chief Information Sharing Officer, FBI, shared the Bureau's organizational focus on information sharing, illustrating a roadmap for the FBI strategic framework. She gave an overview of the Federal partner coordination and the FBI Information Sharing Policy Board, which initiates, develops, enacts, monitors, and maintains the primary policies, decisions, and relevant procedures concerning substantive criminal and intelligence information sharing internally within the FBI and externally with entities outside the FBI. She also discussed selected Federal efforts, including development of the national network of fusion centers. Finally, Dr. Cummins discussed the Nationwide SARs (Suspicious Activity Reporting) Initiative (NSI), which is an interagency response to mandate to establish a "unified process for reporting, tracking, and accessing SARs."

California's Information Sharing Initiative

SEARCH California Member Ms. Linda Denly, Bureau Chief, Division of Justice Information Services, California DOJ, spoke about the department's Information Sharing Initiative. She shared information about a self-evaluation that the Division of Justice Information Services undertook to evaluate their current status, what their clients are looking for, and where they should be heading. Some of the goals of this effort include establishing more strategic relationships with criminal justice partners; finding and encouraging points of collaboration; and clarifying DOJ's information content and services. She stated that the self-evaluation was successful in pointing out internal gaps; one of the lessons learned was the need to improve the visualization of their rap sheet, which has led to rap sheet redesign work in California.

Award Reception

Capt. Thomas Turner (left) and Francis Aumand III
Tuesday evening, SEARCH held a reception to honor the 2011 recipient of the Gary R. Cooper Meritorious Service Award - Vermont Member Mr. Francis X. Aumand III. A SEARCH Member since 1996, Mr. Aumand is Director of the Division of Criminal Justice Services, Vermont Department of Public Safety.

Mr. Aumand was recognized for his professional accomplishments, his dedication, and contributions to SEARCH, and to his service as a leader -- to his State, the SEARCH Membership, and on national initiatives.

From 2005-2010, Mr. Aumand served two terms as Chair of the SEARCH Board of Directors. During his tenure as Chair, he led the organization's adoption of the Carver policy governance model. This change allowed the Board of Directors to leave the day-to-day operations of SEARCH to the professional staff and allowed the Board to focus on what it is the organization should achieve.

On the national level, Mr. Aumand has been closely involved in information sharing, policy and privacy issues as a member of the FBI Advisory Policy Board's Information Sharing Subcommittee; the III Compact Council's Policy and Planning Subcommittee; the Global Privacy and Information Quality Working Group; and as a past member of the Global Intelligence Working Group Subcommittee on Privacy in Fusion Centers. He has also chaired the Legal/Privacy Focus Group of the FBI's Law Enforcement National Data Exchange (N-DEx) project, and has been a member of the Police Executive Research Forum, International Association of Chiefs of Police, and Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dr. John Laub

Federal Partners Panel

Dr. John Laub, who's been serving as Director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) for six months, shared his vision for NIJ. Among other things, he wants to establish NIJ as the leader in scientifically-based research on crime and justice, stating that knowledge has to be rigorous but also useful to state and local practitioners. He wants to secure more funding for social science research and to improve integration between the social, forensic, and physical sciences, eliminating the silos that exist today. Dr. Laub discussed the importance of improving the diffusion of scientific knowledge, stating that as much time should be spent thinking about how to circulate and disseminate research as is spent thinking about how to create research. His dream for NIJ is to embrace "translational criminology," which is bringing the best research to the field and as that gets implemented in the field, taking the lessons learned about that implementation back to the research community.

Mr. Bernard K. Melekian, Director, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), U.S. DOJ, began by acknowledging SEARCH staff for their work in organizing the very successful National Forum on Public Safety Broadband Needs in August 2010.

Bernard Melekian
He announced that President Obama was proposing to create a nationwide interoperable wireless network for public safety, which will include a reallocation of the D Block spectrum for public safety. The Director spoke about fundamental changes regarding what the COPS Office plans to fund in the 2011 grant cycle. He said that the single obligation is to maximize public safety and that priority will be given to multiple agency projects. When asked about possible COPS Office funding for the N-DEx project, Mr. Melekian said that is something he would support, and that it could possibly be done under either the technology grants through earmarks or within the community policing hiring grant perspective.

Cost Analysis as Related to Fees for Criminal History Record Checks

A panel from Deloitte Consulting provided an overview of the cost analysis done within the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division to conduct a fee study analysis, including the legal and policy framework that supports the effort. The approach taken at FBI CJIS is called Activity Based Costing (ABC) and it provides cost control, transparency, and adaptability. The ABC Model captures an as-is snapshot and defines business by functions, activities, products, services, and customers. It ultimately provides a framework to capture baseline cost and workload. The panel included Ms. Debra Long, Fee Programs Unit Chief, FBI CJIS Division; and Mr. Tom Davis, Senior Manager, and Mr. Chad Holmes, Manager, Deloitte Consulting.

SEARCH North Carolina Member Ms. Wendy Brinkley, Special Agent in Charge, Special Operations Division, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, spoke about the methodology used in North Carolina to develop a cost model. The state originally used a time-and-motion process to determine fees, but that methodology has changed as more and more steps in the process have become automated by technology. The fees are established through the Office of State Budget Management by using a 13-point checklist.

APB Disposition Task Force Briefing

Mr. Travis Olson, Management and Program Analyst, FBI CJIS Division, manages the CJIS Advisory Policy Board Disposition Task Force (APB DTF). He provided a look into the background of the task force, and offered some insights into its current projects and goals. Among other things, the APB DTF is focused on disposition improvement; education on the importance of dispositions; disposition rate calculations; and funding. Mr. Olson talked about an initiative that SEARCH staff-along with the National Center for State Courts and funded by the U.S. DOJ BJA-is engaged in to identify specific states to work with to develop solutions for disposition reporting warrant entry in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). He said that the APB DTF is relying on this project to develop a marketing/education strategy for disposition reporting.

Breakout Sessions

Members spent the afternoon rotating through the following three breakout sessions designed to give them the opportunity to work in small groups and engage in discussion:

  • Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) Cost Analysis
    Members brainstormed to identify the components that should be included when doing an analysis of how much it costs to deliver a criminal history record. The components will be organized and compiled into a survey to be completed by Members. The ultimate goal is to create a matrix so the states have a baseline to operate from. Facilitators: SEARCH Staff Mr. Owen Greenspan, Mr. Dennis DeBacco, and Ms. Alecia Webb-Edgington.
  • Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) Dashboard
    In 2008 DPSCS created the Local Law Enforcement Dashboard -- a web-based clearinghouse of information on a criminal subject's history that is accessible to cooperating local, state, and Federal law enforcement. With the Dashboard, law enforcement can find criminal and background information that exists about a person in minutes instead of hours. In this session, Members were briefed on the elements that went into creating the Dashboard, including IT requirements, system architecture, authentication, system access, legal issues, governance, and data sources. Facilitators: SEARCH Member Mr. Ron Brothers and DPSCS Staff Ms. Carole Shelton.
  • Missouri Data Exchange-MoDEx System
    MoDEx is an automated investigative tool that provides Missouri law enforcement agencies with the ability to search, link, analyze, and share criminal justice information such as incident/case reports, incarceration data, computer aided dispatch, photos, citations, collisions, and pawn data on a statewide basis. Members were briefed on how this collaborative effort came to fruition. Facilitator: SEARCH Member Major Robert Bloomberg.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) Reform: A Briefing

Ms. Kelly Harbitter, Programs and Policy Advisor, SEARCH, provided background information on the ECPA, which dates back to 1986 and was designed to prevent unauthorized government access to private electronic communications. The concern today is that privacy protections have not kept up with technology and the current law offers little consumer protection. A broad coalition of industry and civil liberties groups are leading the way to possibly draft new legislation; Ms. Harbitter stated that there is concern over lack of law enforcement involvement in this discussion.

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