This month's cover story features the findings from NIJ's DNA Field Experiment, which investigated the cost-effectiveness
of using DNA evidence to solve property crimes. I am looking forward to discussing the experiment at the opening session of
the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual meeting in November.
A critical aspect of the President's DNA Initiative is the post-conviction program. NIJ was extremely pleased recently to
award nearly $8 million to five states — Arizona, Kentucky, Texas, Virginia and Washington — to help defray the costs of post-conviction
DNA testing. States can use the money to review murder and rape cases, locate evidence, or analyze DNA in cases in which the
innocence of a convicted person may be demonstrated through DNA.
The awards are an important first step, but frankly, we expected many more states to apply. We are taking steps to encourage
stronger interest by: (1) asking states why they did not apply, (2) hosting workshops to help states build the infrastructure
for a post-conviction program, (3) evaluating the efforts of states that received money and identifying lessons learned, and
(4) funding an examination of exonerations nationally.
In October, NIJ will once again partner with the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense for the 10th Annual Technologies
for Critical Incident Preparedness conference, which brings together first responders, business leaders and academic thinkers
to share solutions for preparing for and responding to critical incidents. NIJ will feature its recent work in such diverse
technologies as through-the-wall imaging and biometrics devices, the identification of human remains, and our ready-to-deploy
mobile forensics laboratories.
Terrorist incidents are a common topic at the Critical Incident conference, and NIJ has recently awarded two grants to study
law enforcement's role in preventing such events. Researchers at RAND are looking at how agencies shifted resources or increased
spending after Sept. 11, what effect the spending changes had, and how the agencies are balancing the new demands of homeland
security. Michigan State University is conducting a review of national information-sharing efforts — including an assessment
of fusion centers — to identify major obstacles to effective intelligence gathering and information sharing and to develop
NIJ also recently awarded a major grant for an in-depth study of large and small law enforcement agencies. The study has three
- Personnel: the life cycle of patrol officers and supervisors from the time they are hired until they retire.
- Agencies: differences in leadership styles and accountability systems and their effect on the structure, practices and culture
of a department.
- Innovations: how agencies introduce and test innovative training and operational issues — for example, how can we improve
interactions between officers and the public in traffic stops, burglaries and domestic violence situations?
The study will work with the Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government
over the next several years in what I know will provide useful knowledge and insight to the law enforcement community.
As our country begins its transition to a new administration, I look forward to following NIJ's contributions to improving
the justice system and making our communities safer.
David W. Hagy
Director, National Institute of Justice
NIJ Journal No. 261, October 2008
Date Modified: January 24, 2011