NIJ Journal 272: Director's Message

Acting Director Greg Ridgeway, Ph.D.

NIJ photo (see reuse policy).

As I was reviewing the stories in this issue of the NIJ Journal, I was struck by the innovative ways NIJ grantees are using data, scientific methods and collaboration to solve problems. The article about the fruits of forensics research and development, for example, is just the tip of the iceberg in the forensics realm. Over the coming months, you will be seeing a great deal more about how forensic science research is helping detectives, medical examiners, crime laboratory directors and other criminal justice professionals solve crimes faster, improve processes and reduce costs.

The stories about the partnerships in New Orleans and Los Angeles are peeks into some of our creative collaborative activities. NIJ works hard to bring together the expertise of researchers and practitioners to help reduce or solve public sector problems. I saw this firsthand at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting in February. I was amazed at and excited by the remarkable advances our forensic grantees are making and how their work has multiple applications to the day-to-day operations of the criminal justice system.

These face-to-face gatherings with people from the field are one of the things I most enjoy as the acting director. As many readers know, NIJ currently has no plans to reinstitute our annual summer conference, which for many years brought together researchers and practitioners. Instead, we are finding more cost-effective ways to bring the benefits of our work to the field. We are finding that partnering with professional associations and presenting our research at their meetings can be an effective way to show how scientific inquiry can advance the field.

This month, two meetings featured the work of NIJ grantees:

  • International Association of Crime Analysts, September 9-13. NIJ sessions focused on practical applications of geospatial techniques, the impact of place and problem-solving techniques that crime analysts could take home and use immediately.
  • National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies, September 15-18. NIJ sponsored several sessions about proven practices to reduce probation violations and save staff time and money — how GPS in California reduced sex offender recidivism, a risk assessment tool that was developed in Philadelphia, and a discussion of "video visits" for inmates and their families.

I hope you can attend the meetings still to come this fall:

  • International Association of Chiefs of Police, October 19-23. NIJ has created a special all-day Saturday event at which experts will explain what works and what matters in firearms safety, officer deaths from traffic-related accidents, wrongful convictions and several other hot topics. Attendees will have plenty of time to ask questions specific to their jurisdiction. In addition, NIJ panels and poster sessions will be sprinkled throughout the conference.
  • American Society of Criminology, November 20-23. NIJ research will be featured in numerous panels and cover an array of topics. Plus, NIJ will have a special session devoted to showcasing our priorities and funding opportunities.

Like almost everything NIJ does, these events will foster innovation and benefit both researchers and practitioners. But the ultimate benefactors of R&D partnerships are the victims whose cases are solved more quickly, the taxpayers whose money goes farther, and the citizenry who benefit from improved administration of justice.

Greg Ridgeway
Acting Director, National Institute of Justice

Date Created: September 3, 2013