Publications & Templates

For nearly 45 years, SEARCH has prepared and published a wide range of national research, analytical, technical and survey reports, guides and bulletins on a range of timely issues in criminal justice information management, technology, information sharing, communications interoperability, and law and policy, as well as high-tech crime investigations. The U.S. Department of Justice has published many of our reports, as have national justice task forces and groups. Most of our recent reports are available online for download, and we offer a variety of search methods to find the report you want.  We also offer easy links to document series  we’ve produced, as well as templates.

Featured Reports

Challenges and Promising Practices for Disposition Reporting: Report from the 2017 SEARCH Winter Membership Group Meeting

At SEARCH’s 2017 Winter Membership Group Meeting, held Jan. 24-26 in Phoenix, Arizona, staff facilitated a roundtable discussion and breakout session that addressed the inclusion of dispositions in criminal history records, particularly the challenges of and successful strategies for reporting dispositions. This report documents the findings of these discussions.

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State Progress in Record Reporting for Firearm-Related Background Checks: Protection Order Submissions

This research report, coauthored by SEARCH and the National Center for State Courts, examines the progress states have made in providing firearm-prohibiting protection order data to state and federal databases, including the NCIC Protection Order File.

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Survey of State Criminal History Information Systems, 2014

Since 1989, SEARCH has conducted a biennial national survey of state criminal history systems, then collates and analyzes the results. This report is the 13th such survey, and it provides the most current and comprehensive snapshot of data, trends, improvements, and practices spanning state repository and criminal history operations. Data collected reflect repository systems and operations as of December 31, 2014.

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State Progress in Record Reporting for Firearm-Related Background Checks: Mental Health Submissions

This research report, coauthored by SEARCH and the National Center for State Courts, examines the progress states have made in providing firearm-prohibiting mental health data to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Index.

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Technical Brief: Comparative Analysis of Common Charge Tables

As system interoperability grows, it is important for justice stakeholders to share charge information in order to improve the overall accuracy of the respective data systems involved in the justice process. This is best accomplished by developing and maintaining a shared charge table. This brief is a resource to justice stakeholders undertaking this process.

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Technical Brief: A Unified Modeling Language Approach to Modeling NIEM Exchanges: Overview and Scenario Planning, August 2015

This provides an overview of UML and discusses the features and techniques to support the “Scenario Planning” phase of information exchange package document (IEPD) development. It’s a companion document to A Unified Modeling Language Approach to Modeling NIEM Exchanges: Analyzing Requirements, which illustrates the UML diagrams that support the “Analyze Requirements” and “Map and Model” phases of IEP development, and discusses the service infrastructure environment.

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SEARCH Policy Statements

Approved by the SEARCH Membership Group on July 29, 2014, these eight policy statements articulate the core principles of SEARCH.

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White Paper – Reporting Mental Health Records to the NICS Index

This white paper by SEARCH’s Mental Health Records in NICS Focus Group provides information on how mental health records become a part of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Index—one of the databases accessed during firearms background checks. It also describes which records are eligible for inclusion, examines common misconceptions about these records, and highlights the collective success that states have had in making these records available to the NICS.

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White Paper – The Importance of Information Sharing for Justice Reform

This SEARCH paper shows how information sharing supports justice reform in making better decisions; ensuring accountability; providing efficient services; understanding and investing in what works; and building on what exists. The paper highlights specific examples of successful justice reform through better decision-making.

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SEARCH Recommendations: Improving the National Instant Background Screening System for Firearms Purchases

This SEARCH document responds to NICS questions from Congress and the Administration. It contains important facts and background about NICS and the States’ role in the system, and SEARCH Member recommendations regarding funding and support for this critical system.

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Document Series

tech-guideLaw Enforcement Tech Guides

Since 2002, SEARCH produced six Tech Guides that serve as helpful and informative resources to law enforcement and public safety practitioners. This series was prepared under funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). Learn More

ib6Public Safety Issue Briefs

The Issue Briefs series addresses best practices and key topical issues related to public safety communications interoperability. They are designed for practitioners with limited time and a need to know about the latest industry-based knowledge. The series is prepared by SEARCH under funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). Learn More

TB-UsingOSItoImplementGRATechnical Briefs

SEARCH’s Technical Brief series continues our practice of developing and providing information sharing resources and models to the justice community. They address common, practical and timely technology and process issues—particularly those SEARCH is frequently asked about by justice and public safety organizations that face information technology challenges. Learn More


Why reinvent the wheel? Download and use SEARCH-developed templates in MS Word or Excel.

The following are modifiable service catalog templates that your agency can use to start developing a Configuration Management Database (CMDB), a tool that IT managers and staff use to define and track changes to the services they manage. These templates are companion resources to Technical Brief-Using Principles of Service Management to Manage Justice Information Technology Services, which describes how principles of IT Service Management (ITSM) can benefit IT operations in the justice environment.  IT services are the delivery of expertise and products by an IT provider that support the customer’s business processes—often including a combination of resources, people, processes, and technology to maintain an adequate level of service.

SEARCH offers an MS Excel 2003 spreadsheet containing worksheets that guides you through a detailed assessment of your agency’s IT system in three categories: Management, Organizational, and Technicaland a fourth category, State and Local Law Enforcement-Specific IT Security Controls, which assists with recording information on additional state and local government issues.  This tool provides your team with a simple and concise methodology by which to assess your systems and their potential risk.

SEARCH’s Guide to Conducting Privacy Impact Assessments for State, Local, and Tribal Information Sharing Initiatives helps you examine the privacy implications of your information systems and information-sharing collaborations so you can design and implement policies to address vulnerabilities identified through the assessment process. It includes a template that your jurisdiction can use to conduct your privacy impact assessments.

State repository staff can use the Quality Assurance Checklist to:

  1. Establish a baseline of repository operations, including alignment with nationally accepted requirements and best practices;
  2. Identify gaps in repository operations; and
  3. Train and educate existing and future staff on repository operations. 

State repository staff can use the Civil Fingerprint Handling Cost Analysis Tool to determine the costs for noncriminal justice purpose background checks. 

The QA and Cost Analysis Tools are bundled together in one Microsoft Word document that can be filled out electronically:

The Project Planning Resource Toolkit offers easy-to-use templates for developing the following:

  • A public safety project decision-making structure
  • A public safety project charter
  • A public safety project communications plan
  • A public safety project risk management plan
  • A public safety project assessment and analysis checklist

Justice and public safety organizations that initiate an information sharing program with local, regional, state, and/or federal partners should develop an Enterprise Strategic Plan. SEARCH has prepared Technical Briefs that outline the importance of enterprise strategic planning, and offer a methodology for preparing enterprise strategic plans. Organizations can use this modifiable Word template to prepare such a plan.

Jurisdictions can use this template to prepare a memorandum of understanding for participants in a justice information sharing federation. The agreement, which is a modifiable Word document, formally establishes the governance, responsibilities, and obligations of federation participants.