Director’s Message

As the head of a Federal agency, I make decisions nearly every day on how to spend taxpayers’ dollars. My job at NIJ is to ensure that our R&D dollars build the best knowledge possible—the most crucial, the most timely, the highest quality—for the criminal justice community.

Our cover story explores this process of knowledge building in one of the most vital components of our justice system: eyewitness evidence and how lineups are conducted. “Police Lineups: Making Eyewitness Identification More Reliable” discusses the state of knowledge and practice on this controversial subject. We also discuss a very important study that we have recently begun—a field test of simultaneous versus sequential lineups using blind and nonblind administrators.

Another area in which NIJ is working to build knowledge is forensics. I am extremely proud to tell you that Dr. John Morgan, the head of NIJ’s science and technology office, and his team of researchers, lawyers, and analysts received the 2007 Service to America Medal in Justice and Law Enforcement. John received the “Sammie” for the knowledge his team has generated as part of the President’s DNA Initiative. Their work has helped solve thousands of cold cases and has dramatically expanded the capacity of local law enforcement to use DNA evidence. To John and his team, I offer my praise and recognition for (if I may borrow the words of the Service to America committee) your commitment to and innovation in making our Nation stronger and safer.

Finally, I am excited to report that NIJ and Harvard University have teamed up to repeat history—in the best sense of that concept. A generation ago, NIJ and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government sponsored the Executive Session on Policing. The participants of that landmark project became the police leaders of the following two decades. Now, post-9/11, we are experiencing an unprecedented investment in new data systems, training, and technology for law enforcement. To help guide the Nation in this monumental effort, NIJ and Harvard are now reexamining ways to help elected officials and senior executives use these investments wisely and effectively. Through our executive session on Policing in the New Century, we will identify the principles and priorities that will make effective policing not just possible but likely in the next two decades.

As NIJ continues to build the best criminal justice practices and technologies, we remain committed to spreading this knowledge to all corners of the country through publications like this issue of the NIJ Journal. I hope you find it interesting and useful.

David W. Hagy
Acting Principal Deputy Director, National Institute of Justice