Newly Adopted Policy Statements Articulate SEARCH’s Core Values; Spotlight Key Justice Information Sharing & Management Issues
The SEARCH Membership Group, at its 2014 Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City on July 29, adopted eight policy statements that articulate its core values, express the view of the States on key criminal justice information sharing and management issues, and offer a roadmap for how local, state, and federal governments can achieve progress in these important policy areas.
“In a nearly year-long effort, SEARCH Members strove to identify their most fundamental principles and refine these into single-issue statements,” said Mr. Brad Truitt, Director of Information Systems, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, who is Chairman of the SEARCH Membership and Board of Directors.
“The statements provide thought leadership on what SEARCH Members believe to be essential to a well-functioning, efficient, and effective justice system—including the importance of justice information sharing, integration, and privacy protections.”
Consensus Voice of the States
SEARCH’s Membership Group—which include governor appointees from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories, and experts from organizations, academia, and government—are primarily state-level justice officials responsible for operational decisions and policy on managing criminal justice and criminal history information, and related identification and telecommunications technology.
For 45 years, this body has worked together to debate, analyze, and strategize about timely policy, operational, and technical issues that affect justice information sharing—and then speak as a consensus voice of the States on those issues. SEARCH seeks to drive national changes through this process of dialogue and consensus, and build a community of interest and expertise that supports the justice information sharing challenges and needs of the States.
Articulating Key Values
Each statement articulates a core principle of SEARCH—taken together, the eight statements affirm what SEARCH most values:
- information sharing among justice, public safety, and homeland security,
- standardized criminal history records as a basis for information sharing, with positive identification of record subjects,
- the states’ responsibilities for conducting background screening within a national legal, policy, and operational framework,
- an integrated justice enterprise,
- evidence-based decision-making, and
- privacy and civil liberties protections for criminal history records.
Each statement provides background on what the core principle means, why it is important, who it affects, and how we achieve the end result articulated in the principle.
Statements Refine Long-Held Values
The SEARCH Membership Group has long voiced its consensus on justice information sharing and criminal history record management practices. Since 1974, Members have adopted 61 resolutions—most often to voice issues, recommendations, and positions on specific pieces of Federal legislation or in reaction to a particular Federal action. While these voice similar positions or recommendations, they often do so in a manner tailored to a specific use and time—and are more a historic barometer for the organization’s belief system.
In fall 2013, SEARCH Members began their effort to refine the organization’s long-held core principles into the focused, official statements they subsequently adopted in late July 2014.
SEARCH Values National Cooperative Information Sharing Efforts SEARCH values collective and cooperative efforts by State, Local, Tribal, Territorial, and Federal jurisdictions to share justice, public safety, and homeland security information. SEARCH Values Positive Identification Via Biometrics SEARCH values use of biometric identification as a foundation for criminal and civil records exchange and criminal investigations. SEARCH Values the Official Criminal History Record: A State and Federal Effort SEARCH values a nationwide, standardized, and user-governed approach to sharing criminal record information among the States and Federal agencies. SEARCH Values a National Structure for Criminal Record Background Screening SEARCH values the legal, policy, and operational framework that the Congress and States have established to govern the exchange of criminal justice information for criminal record background screening. SEARCH Values States’ Responsibilities for Criminal Record Background Screening SEARCH values the ability and right for the States to establish criminal record background check policies, requirements, practices and fees, within the context of a nationwide approach. SEARCH Values an Effective, Integrated Justice Enterprise SEARCH values the integration of justice information systems, across all levels of government, to enable the more effective and efficient administration of the justice system. SEARCH Values Decision-Making Based on Evidence, Research, and Data SEARCH values the use of information and research to inform and improve policy and practice in the administration of justice. SEARCH Values Protecting Privacy and Civil Liberties SEARCH values privacy and civil liberties protections as fundamental to effective justice information sharing.
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