Massachusetts Member Curtis Wood, Champion of Public Safety and Information Sharing, to Receive 2016 Cooper Award
Mr. Curtis Wood will be the 2016 recipient of the Gary R. Cooper Meritorious Service Award, SEARCH’s top Membership honor. The SEARCH Board of Directors made the selection at its meeting in January, held in conjunction with our 2016 Winter Meeting.
Mr. Wood is Undersecretary for Forensic Science and Technology in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS), a cabinet-level agency. He has served as Massachusetts’ governor-appointed representative to the SEARCH Membership since 2008.
The Board recognized Mr. Wood for his extraordinary level of practical experience in public safety operations and criminal justice policy management, achieved through many years of work in Massachusetts and on behalf of national initiatives—and for championing initiatives that improve the ability of public safety stakeholders to share information. In particular, Mr. Wood’s strategic leadership in Massachusetts has had a significant and positive impact in the Commonwealth in critical justice information sharing areas.Curt truly understands and champions the important nexus of public safety and information sharing, and continues to dedicate himself to initiatives, such as FirstNet, that will improve the ability of public safety stakeholders to do their jobs.
— Dawn Peck (Idaho), SEARCH Board Member
For the past 5 years as undersecretary, Mr. Wood has had oversight responsibility of the State Police Crime Laboratory and Forensic Services Group, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Department of Criminal Justice Information Services, the state 911 Department, and the Office of Technology and Information Services. In this role, he directs the development and implementation of a statewide information sharing strategy for the commonwealth.
State, National Public Safety Broadband Support
He also leads a new Public Safety Broadband Office, which coordinates efforts with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to build and deploy the National Public Safety Broadband Network, a nationwide, high-speed wireless network dedicated to public safety. When implemented in Massachusetts and nationally, this initiative will facilitate communications among first responders during emergencies and provide reliable, secure access for public safety users.
“This effort requires Curt, as the state’s Point of Contact, to coordinate and collaborate with numerous public safety entities, local and state officials, and other stakeholders, including the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), to provide outreach, solicit feedback, and determine the public safety broadband needs in Massachusetts,” noted SEARCH Member Dawn Peck (Idaho) in her nomination letter to the Board.
40-year Career in Public Safety
Mr. Wood’s public safety career spans more than four decades. For the first 22 years, he participated and led numerous fugitive apprehension, warrant, and gang task forces with the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC), State Police, U.S. Marshal’s Service, and the FBI.
He also served as the DOC’s Director of Information Resources before leaving state service for 5 years to work as a private sector consultant, where he led large public safety/justice technology initiatives; and as an adjunct professor at local colleges, developing and teaching courses in criminal justice and justice technology applications.
From 2002–2007, he served as Deputy Executive Director of the Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board (the precursor to the CJIS Department). There, he managed the daily operations of the state’s criminal justice information system, which provides access to state and interstate criminal history records, protective orders, missing and wanted person files, firearms licensing and gun sales transactions, and other critical information.
This led to his appointment in 2008 by Governor Patrick to serve as Commissioner of the CJIS Department. As the agency’s chief executive, Mr. Wood:
- Oversaw the state’s law enforcement information systems, Firearms Records Bureau, and Victim Services Unit.
- Led the agency’s policy management and compliance over state and national criminal history systems, including Nlets and NCIC.
- Managed the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system, which provides records for noncriminal justice purpose background checks, such as employment, and helped implement an Identity Theft Index to help victims of identity theft whose data were wrongly associated with a CORI record.
- Served in national leadership roles, including representing Massachusetts on the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Advisory Policy Board, and as its FBI CJIS/NCIC Systems Officer and Nlets representative.
After his appointment to the SEARCH Membership, Mr. Wood has been an active participant and leader in this organization, and has served on its Board of Directors since 2013. He contributes to policy discussions, offering a broader perspective through his insight and knowledge into public safety communications.
SEARCH will present the Cooper Award to Mr. Wood at its 2016 Annual Meeting July 26 in Houston, Texas.
The Gary R. Cooper Meritorious Service Award honors a SEARCH Member whose work in the field of criminal justice information systems, policy or statistics has been outstanding. The award, named after long-time SEARCH Executive Director Gary R. Cooper (retired), enables SEARCH Members to recognize one of their colleagues for contributions both to the field of criminal justice information and to the success of SEARCH.
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