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How NIJ Informs Technology Policy

Policy guides the use of technology in practice and may have a greater influence on how effective a technology is than the characteristics of the technology itself. NIJ seeks to improve effectiveness of technology in criminal justice applications by informing the development of relevant policy. NIJ does this in a number of different ways including:

Funding Research to Inform Policy Development

The results of NIJ-funded research can give policymakers the evidence they need to set policy based on a more solid understand of what is likely to be effective.

An example of NIJ’s support for the development of policy through research is the report Study of Deaths Following Electro Muscular Disruption. This report details the findings and policy recommendations of a blue ribbon panel convened by NIJ to examine the deaths of individuals who died after exposure to a conducted energy device during an encounter with law enforcement. Jurisdiction can use the recommendations from the panel to set policy that reduces the risk of death following the use of conducted energy devices.

Another example of NIJ’s support for the development of policy through research is the Emergency Vehicle Visibility and Conspicuity Study, which NIJ undertook in collaboration with the U.S. Fire Administration. This effort analyzed emergency vehicle lighting, marking, and painting schemes to improve public safety vehicle roadway safety. Jurisdictions can create policies based on the findings from this study that set out requirements for vehicle marking.

Developing Guides and Model Policies

Guides and model policies are an effective means of sharing best practices based on expert experience and research. NIJ works with researchers, practitioner subject matter experts, and industry and stakeholder organizations to develop model policies and guides.

An example of this is the NIJ-published Forensic Examination of Digital Evidence: A Guide for Law Enforcement. Representatives from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Association of Attorneys General, among other organizations, developed that guide.

NIJ also publishes equipment selection and application guides, such as the Selection and Application Guide 0101.06 to Ballistic-Resistant Body Armor. These guides inform criminal justice agencies in the development of sound policies and procedures concerning the procurement, use and disposal of particular items of equipment. They are also intended to provide the officers who use this equipment a better understanding of how best to use and care for it.

Other examples include the NIJ-funded International Association of Chiefs of Police report Electro-Muscular Disruption Technology A Nine-Step Strategy for Effective Deployment (pdf, 25 pages) Exit Notice.​ This report was supported under grant number 1999-LT-VX-K004, awarded by NIJ to the IACP.

Identifying and Translating Practitioner Policy Needs

NIJ identifies technology policy needs as part of its process of identifying the technology needs of criminal justice agencies more broadly.  That process rests on structured engagement with the practitioner community. 

A key part of that process is currently carried out through the RAND Corporation’s Priority Criminal Justice Needs Initiative, which is supported through a cooperative agreement awarded by NIJ. RAND is partnered with the Police Executive Research Forum, RTI International, and the University of Denver in this effort.

This process has produced a number of reports identifying technology policy needs. One such report, which focuses on needs of corrections agencies, identifies the need to develop guides for the probation and parole community to deploy and use secure mobile computing technologies and the need for best practices regarding the mitigation of officer stress.

Read the report, Fostering Innovation in Community and Institutional Corrections: Identifying High-Priority Technology and Other Needs for the U.S. Corrections Sector. This report was supported under grant number 2013-MU-CX-K003, awarded by NIJ to RAND.

Learn more about how NIJ identifies technology​ needs of public safety agencies.

NIJ also acts as an advocate, translating the criminal justice practitioner’s technology-policy relevant needs in relevant policy and policy related forums. These include:

Date Created: September 29, 2016