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Texas Governor Appoints Crime Records Chief to SEARCH Membership

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Ms. Michelle D. Farris to the SEARCH Membership Group, effective January 1, 2021.

Ms. Farris is Chief of the newly created Crime Records Division within the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). In late December 2020, the DPS split its Law Enforcement Support Division (LESD) into two entities, the Crime Records Division and Crime Laboratory Division, following the retirement of longtime LESD Chief Mike Lesko.

Ms. Farris succeeds Mr. Lesko as Texas’s governor appointee to SEARCH. Mr. Lesko had served in this role since 2003 and had also served three terms on the SEARCH Board of Directors. In 2010, he was selected by the SEARCH Board for the Gary R. Cooper Meritorious Service Award, which recognized his contributions both to the field of criminal justice information and to the success of SEARCH.

Ms. Farris most recently served as an assistant chief within the LESD, overseeing the Crime Records Service since 2018. She first joined DPS in 1996, was promoted into various leadership roles within the Criminal Histories and Texas Data Exchange areas of Crime Records, and became manager of the Crime Information Bureau in 2010. In 2014, Ms. Farris was promoted to a deputy administrator position and in 2018, she became assistant chief of Crime Records, overseeing Criminal Justice Information Systems and Services (CJIS), including the Computerized Criminal History database, Multi-Modal Biometric Information System, Fingerprint Applicant Services of Texas (FAST), the Sex Offender Registry, TxGang, Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (TLETS), the Texas Crime Information Center (TCIC) and the Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

Ms. Farris also serves as the Texas state representative to Nlets, serves as regional chair, and serves on the Nlets Board of Directors and various committees. She is also vice chair of the FBI Advisory Policy Board’s National Data Exchange subcommittee and is a member of the task force for the next generation of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Farris earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Texas in Austin.

SEARCH welcomes Ms. Farris to the SEARCH Membership and thanks Mr. Lesko for his service.

The SEARCH Membership Group, the governing body of SEARCH, is comprised of one gubernatorial appointee from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories, as well as eight at-large appointees selected by SEARCH’s Chair. This national body of state-level professionals is widely representative of the various disciplines within the justice system, and many are responsible for operational decisions and policymaking concerning the management of criminal justice.
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Karen Lissy

Ms. Karen Lissy is a Justice Information Services Specialist for the Law and Policy Program of SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. In this position, she provides assistance to state and local justice and public safety agencies to collect, curate, and use National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data and computerized criminal history record (CCH/CHRI) information for policy analysis and development.

She also guides justice and related organizations in how to craft and implement laws, policies, practices, and technology applications to effectively collect and use CCH and related justice/public safety data; address legal, policy, and regulatory issues associated with CCH data; better manage and operate criminal justice information and identification systems; and develop security and privacy policies that protect justice information sharing systems.

Ms. Lissy has nearly two decades of research and data analysis experience, having led projects and tasks in support of two agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Institute of Justice), as well as the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and multiple foundations, including Ford, Annie E. Casey, and Hewlett. Prior to joining SEARCH in October 2020, Ms. Lissy served as a Social Science Researcher at RTI International, as a regional Crime Analyst for the Redmond (WA) Police Department, and as Director of a research program with the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Beginning in 2012, Ms. Lissy’s work has focused on improving data in law enforcement to answer policy questions and improve community/police relations.

Ms. Lissy earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University, and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.