Biometrics Expert Peter Higgins to Receive SEARCH’s Highest Practitioner Honor
The SEARCH Board of Directors chose long-time biometrics expert Peter T. Higgins to receive the 2014 O.J. Hawkins Award for Innovative Leadership and Outstanding Contributions in Criminal Justice Information Systems, Policy and Statistics—SEARCH’s highest practitioner honor.
Mr. Higgins is a long-time leader in the biometrics field, and works as a consultant, lecturer and author helping government agencies find and acquire biometric systems that are standards-based and appropriate to their needs. His work takes him all over the globe, and has been used to help national police services in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr. Higgins was nominated for the award by Judge William S. Sessions, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the 1992 Hawkins Award recipient.
The Board selected Mr. Higgins for the award at their 2014 Winter Meeting last month.“Mr. Higgins has provided 20 years of hands-on project planning and management as well as thought leadership in the criminal justice community. This has been through his small business as well as through extensive pro bono activities. He is well respected and recognized in this community for his service. The fact that congressional offices reach out to him is further tribute to his broad impact on the community as well as the depth of his knowledge.”
—Judge William S. Sessions
FBI IAFIS Manager
Mr. Higgins retired from the FBI in 1995 as the Deputy Assistant Director in charge of the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) program and Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division’s Engineering Branch.
He joined the FBI in 1992 to manage the IAFIS Program Office. At the time, the FBI was experiencing a 3- to 6-month turnaround in fingerprint processing, with a backlog approaching 750,000 fingerprint cards. Mr. Higgins worked with the Department of Justice, Congress, and state and local criminal justice communities to help shape the complex IAFIS system into the largest criminal fingerprint database in the world.
Today, IAFIS houses fingerprints and criminal histories for more than 70 million subjects in the criminal master file, and more than 34 million civil prints. The system responds to requests 24/7 by local, state, and federal partners and handles over an average of 163,000 transactions per day.
As the FBI began working on its Next Generation Identification (NGI) program, which is an upgrade to IAFIS that will include even more biometric modalities, it again reached out to Mr. Higgins for his expertise. Based on his experience gained at the Department of Defense in the deployment of its Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), he helped the FBI develop operational concepts for the use of facial recognition and iris matching.
AFIS Procurement Efforts
He has also been instrumental in helping two agencies—the Orange County (California) Crime Lab and the Western Identification Network (WIN)—procure AFIS systems that support cross-jurisdictional searches and to implement the newly established Extended Feature Set (EFS) searching of latent prints between otherwise incompatible systems. EFS is a major capability of the NGI system.
Much of Mr. Higgins’ early work forms the baseline for most AFIS procurements around the world today. Decisions on transmission protocols for digital images and related demographic and biographic data, image quality metrics, certification of scanners, and vocabulary terms all have roots dating back to his leadership and recommendations of the early 1990s.
Mr. Higgins is the founder and current secretary of the Scientific Working Group for Forensic and Investigative Speaker Recognition (SWG-Speaker), a group that supports and promotes the scientific foundations and practice of speaker recognition, voice data collection, measurement, transmission and retrieval capabilities.
The SEARCH Membership will present the Hawkins Award at its 2014 Annual Meeting next July in Salt Lake City.
O.J. Hawkins Award
- formally acknowledges an individual’s service, dedication, and contributions that have improved the justice community’s ability to develop and use criminal justice information.
- past Hawkins Award recipients have made outstanding contributions that have a broad-ranging impact, often affecting multiple states, justice disciplines, or branches of government.
- the only nationally recognized, competitive award for contributions in the field of criminal justice information management
- named for Orville J. (Bud) Hawkins, who was SEARCH’s first Chairman and Executive Director.
Co-author, Public Domain Drug Court Software: Functions and Utility
Author, Supporting the Drug Court Process: What You Need to Know for Effective Decisionmaking and Program Evaluation
Contributor, Report of the National Focus Group on Identity Theft Victimization and Criminal Record Repository Operations
Contributor, Report of the National Focus Group on the Criminal Record Backgrounding of America
Co-author: Complete Criminal Histories—A Key Measure of Integration Success
Co-author, DNA Forensics: Expanding Uses and Information Sharing
Co-author, Guide to Conducting Privacy Impact Assessments for State and Local Information Sharing Initiatives
Co-author, Survey of State Criminal History Information Systems, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012
Organizer/Moderator: National conference, “Beyond the Technology: The Law & Policy Implications of Biometric Use,” 2002
Organizer/Moderator: national Criminal History Operations Workshop, 2004, 2006
Organizer/Moderator: Workshop on Expanding Access to Criminal History Information and Improving Criminal Record Backgrounding, 2007
Organizer/Moderator: National Instant Criminal Background Check System Improvement Amendments Act Conference, 2009
Presenter, National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact Council, 2010–2014
Presenter, FBI CJIS Advisory Policy Board, 2012–2014
FBI CJIS Identification Services Coordinating Group Criminal Justice Rap Back Committee
National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact Council Rap Back Task Force
FBI CJIS Division Disposition Reporting Task Force
FBI CMIS Advisory Policy Board Warrants Task Force
Joint Task Force on the Design and Utilization of an Interstate Criminal History Record
FBI work Group on the Implementation of the Brady Law
FBI National Fingerprint File Pilot Project Evaluation Group
National Focus Group on the Retention of Civil Fingerprints by Criminal Record Repositories
National Focus Group on Emergency Housing and Criminal Record Checks: The Hurricane Katrina Experience
National Task Force on Increasing the Utility of the Criminal History Record
Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative: Privacy and Information Quality Working Group, and Privacy and Technology Focus Group