Visit to the National Institute of Justice

Trip Start Aug 08, 2009
Trip End Aug 30, 2009

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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Friday, August 14, 2009

Today I had a really good meeting with Chuck Heurich a programme manager at the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). He oversees a number of projects within the Science and Justice Programmes of the NIJ. I would say that the NIJ sit in roughly the equivilant of the NPIA in British terms.

A significant amount of funding is available under the National Forensic Science Improvement Act where law enforcement communities can apply for funding eith via a peer review system out of a central pot of $35million or also under competitive tendering which offers up to $125,000 per agency via the long standing Paul Coverdell National Forensic Science Improvement Programme. The money from this second funding pot is normally allocated, once awarded, to law enforcement establishments to training as there are a significant number of law enforcement agencies who have a very limited training budget.

The Forensic Science Training, Development and Delivery Programme has looked at gap analysis in terms of skills devlopment but at present this has just addressed crime lab workers (in line with the funding allocated to DNA expansion in the US) and some remedial work into first responders (again from a DNA perspective). Also funding has been made available to train both prosecution and defence in forensic related issues as part of this programme.
This programme longer term is looking to encompass everyone innvolved in the forensic process and by 2010 all areas of policing should be addressed.

One new peoject that is of interest and needs further research is one that Chuck does not have ownership of but that he made me aware of, is the Catagory V - Enahncing Forenisc and Crime Scene Investigation which is managed by Thurston Bryant. Thurston unfortunately does not currently work out of the NIJ and I will need to contact him via email to get an update on this workstream. Despite my best efforts it seems that I will not be able to visit him whilst in DC. Sonme follow-up is required with this one.

Chuck also informed me that the Forensic Science Societies/Organisations have been lobbying Capitol Hill directly via Senator Shelby for funding for practitioner training. Clearly the recent NAS publication of Strengthening Forensic Sciences in the US and the subseqent recommendations made in this document has been recognised by the forensic community and is being addressed albeit slowly.

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