Owen Greenspan, National Criminal History Record Authority and Advocate of Improved Data Quality, to Receive SEARCH’s Top Practitioner Honor for 2016
Mr. Owen M. Greenspan, whose career in law enforcement, criminal history records management, and policymaking spanned 50 years and who is known as a national authority for “all things criminal history,” will receive SEARCH’s 2016 O.J. Hawkins Award for Innovative Leadership and Outstanding Contributions in Criminal Justice Information Systems, Policy and Statistics.
The SEARCH Board of Directors selected Mr. Greenspan for the annual Hawkins Award, our highest practitioner honor, when they met in January during SEARCH’s 2016 Winter Meeting in San Diego, California.
SEARCH will present Mr. Greenspan with the award the evening of July 26 at its 2016 Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas. The ceremony will also honor other award recipients, including Members and Staff for years of service, and the recipient of SEARCH’s 2016 Cooper Award.
Mr. Greenspan’s career included work at local and state justice agencies, as a member or staff to numerous national justice-related advisory groups and task forces, and as Law and Policy Director for SEARCH, where he retired in 2014.
New York City Police Department, 1968–1987: Patrol, investigative, administrative, and supervisory positions, including Commanding Officer, Identification Section (NYPD’s central criminal records unit)
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, 1987–1994: Deputy Commissioner, responsible for the State’s criminal history record repository, Missing and Exploited Children’s Clearinghouse, and AFIS
SEARCH, 1995–2014: Director of Law and Policy, focusing on such issues as criminal record background checks, biometric technology, repository operations, and developing sex offender registries
See Mr. Greenspan’s publications, events, and appointments.
In addition, for 7 years he served as New York State’s governor-appointed representative to the SEARCH Membership Group, and was elected as Vice Chair and to its Board of Directors. In this role, he represented SEARCH before national organizations and testified before Congress in 1993 on the Brady Bill. His contributions earned him SEARCH’s Cooper Award for Meritorious Service in 1994, which recognizes outstanding contributions of a SEARCH Member.
He spent many years supporting national criminal justice identification and records sharing efforts, and voiced his strong support of improving the data quality and timeliness of criminal history records.
Mr. Greenspan was nominated for the award by SEARCH Members Dawn Peck (Idaho) and Liane Moriyama (Hawaii). In their nomination letter, they wrote that “[Owen’s] remarkable knowledge and dedication over the years helped contribute to improvements in record background checks, disposition reporting, automation, and more.”
They added that his AKA should be “National,” as demonstrated by his many contributions, which helped move the field of criminal justice information forward. These included:
He helped State repositories unravel the complexities of Federal programs and laws that affect criminal history record information. He worked to help weave the nation’s criminal history record system into a cohesive working machine, despite the existence of disparate State laws and statutes that often hinder seamless information sharing.
- Contributing to many early discussions regarding criminal justice identification and record sharing. He sat on a SEARCH committee which helped clarify language in the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact, the vehicle that facilitates the exchange of criminal records for noncriminal justice purposes among the states.
- Helping to sync the delicate balance between individual privacy rights and public safety’s mandate to ensure citizen safety. He played a major role in developing and sustaining many of the national databases that exist today to house criminal history and other relevant records.
- Serving as SEARCH’s liaison with the FBI on issues relating to the Interstate Identification Index and standardized rap sheets, and becoming a regular fixture at meetings of the Global Justice Information Sharing initiative, the FBI CJIS Advisory Policy Board, and the Compact Council.
- Serving as member and staff to numerous national advisory groups and task forces organized by the U.S. Justice Department and SEARCH, which worked to increase the utility of the criminal history record, examined ways to improve criminal history record disposition reporting, and addressed other issues, such as court automation, warrants, and civil/criminal record rap back procedures.
– Ms. Dawn Peck and Ms. Liane Moriyama
Supporting Tools, Creating Resources
As SEARCH staff, Mr. Greenspan supported tools and created resources for the national justice community:
- He is considered a subject matter expert on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), our nation’s tool for conducting national background checks for firearms purchases.
- He worked closely with the states to improve their criminal history record repositories under the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) and the NICS Act Record Improvement Program (NARIP) of the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.
- He supported improvements to criminal record background checks and implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act (NIAA).
- He explained the legal and policy implications of biometric technology use and led workshops on state criminal record repository operations and developing sex offender registries.
- He developed resources to improve State participation in the III, the National Fingerprint File, the FBI’s IAFIS, the National Sex Offender Registry, and other national efforts.
- Many documents used regularly to research these issues are authored by Owen, including five editions of the Survey of State Criminal History Information Systems.
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.
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