U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. Innovation. Partnerships. Safer Neighborhoods.
Justice Resource Update. Advancing the Field of Criminal Justice. DECEMBER 2010
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Safeguarding America Together: Suspicious Activity Reporting

Safeguarding America TogetherHolidays are a time to celebrate, to be thankful, and to enjoy the company of family and friends. With increased traffic on our nation’s roads and in its airports, the holidays are also a time when our federal, state, and local law enforcement officers redouble their efforts to protect us all from terrorist attacks and threats to our homeland and hometowns.

The Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (NSI) established a national capacity for gathering, documenting, processing, analyzing, and sharing information on suspicious activities. The Office of Justice Program’s (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) runs the NSI Program Management Office (PMO) to facilitate implementation of NSI across all levels of government. The PMO also assists agencies with adopting consistent processes, policies, and standards, while ensuring privacy rights and civil liberties are protected.

Because crimes often begin at the local level, frontline criminal justice providers play an integral role in observing suspicious activity and taking appropriate action to prevent crimes, solve those that do occur, and save lives. NSI builds on the information gathering activities law enforcement and other agencies have been conducting for years by establishing a process designed to help detect and prevent terrorism-related criminal activity.

To that end, NSI instituted a year-long pilot project in multiple locations, which has demonstrated the positive impact of local counterterrorism efforts and the capacity of NSI to combat terrorism while protecting privacy. A BJA report detailing results from these 12 evaluation sites was released early this year.

Currently, NSI PMO is working on the next phase of implementation and identifying the next NSI sites. A wide variety of resources are available online to help providers integrate suspicious activity reporting into their operations.

In this effort—and in everything we do—OJP focuses on providing information, tools, training, technical assistance, and guidelines that will help professionals in the field protect our communities. If you have questions, comments, or feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

Bullet Safeguarding America Together: Suspicious Activity Reporting
Bullet Science Advisory Board Launched
Bullet Solving the Problem of Untested Evidence in Sexual Assaults
Bullet Bulletin on Youth in Residential Placement
Bullet Report on School Crime and Safety
Bullet Training and Technical Assistance Needs Assessment Published
Bullet NIJ Releases New CBRN Standard for Law Enforcement
Bullet National AMBER Alert Symposium
Bullet Mark Your Calendar
Science Advisory Board Launched

Attorney General Eric Holder named 18 scholars and practitioners to the newly created OJP Science Advisory Board. The board is part of a comprehensive effort by the U.S. Department of Justice to help practitioners and policymakers better access, understand, and integrate evidence about how to address crime. At OJP, these efforts also include the Evidence Integration Initiative.

"This Administration is committed to using science to help inform and guide policy development. By providing advice and counsel to the Department of Justice, the members of this advisory board will help us focus on evidence-based approaches to prevent and reduce crime," said Attorney General Holder.

Laurie O. Robinson, OJP’s Assistant Attorney General, recommended the creation of the advisory board as a means of bridging the divide between research and practice in criminal and juvenile justice fields. The board will review and provide recommendations for OJP research, statistics, and grant programs, ensuring that programs and activities are scientifically sound and pertinent to policymakers and practitioners.

The board will convene in early 2011 and includes scholars and practitioners in criminology, statistics, and sociology and practitioners in the criminal and juvenile justice fields. A complete list of the appointees is available online.

Solving the Problem of Untested Evidence in Sexual Assaults

Thousands of untested rape kits have been discovered in police evidence rooms around the country. For resource-strapped jurisdictions dealing with the discovery of large numbers of older, unanalyzed rape kits, the solutions are anything but straightforward.

To help address the problem, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) issued an "action-research" solicitation in October. This spring, NIJ will award up to $200,000 to each of three to five sites to create teams that will include a criminal-justice researcher and representatives from the police department, crime lab, prosecutor’s office, and a community-based victim services organization. The teams will first inventory and review untested rape kits in their jurisdiction to determine why the cases were not sent to the lab; then, they will develop a plan to tackle the problem.

In phase 2 of the project, NIJ hopes to award up to a total of $4 million to help the sites implement their plans. The overarching goal of this work is to help the nation move beyond crisis management to the adoption of systematic practices, procedures, and protocols that will prevent this situation from ever happening again.

Bulletin on Youth in Residential Placement

A new bulletin from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) provides recommendations for reducing recidivism based on data gleaned from a survey of youth in custody. Youth’s Characteristics and Backgrounds also includes details about the kinds of offenders in custody, which can inform policy and program development.

The bulletin is the fourth in a series that presents findings from OJJDP’s Survey of Youth in Residential Placement (SYRP). This bulletin focuses on the youth’s demographic characteristics, current and prior offenses, current disposition, family and educational backgrounds, and expectations for the future.

SYRP is the only current national survey that obtains comprehensive information about youth in custody by directly asking the youth themselves.

Report on School Crime and Safety

According to a report completed by OJP’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in partnership with the National Center for Education Statistics, student victimization at school decreased between 2007 and 2008. For instance, the total crime victimization rate of students ages 12 to 18 at school declined from 57 victimizations per 1,000 students in 2007 to 47 victimizations per 1,000 students in 2008.

In 2008, among students ages 12–18, there were about 1.2 million victims of nonfatal crimes at school, including 619,000 thefts and 629,800 violent crimes (simple assault and serious violent crime). During the school year 2007–08, there were 1,701 homicides among school-age youth ages 5–18. Additionally, in 2009, 31 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported they had been in a physical fight at least one time during the previous 12 months anywhere, and 11 percent said they had been in a fight on school property during the previous 12 months.

The report, Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2010, provides the most current statistical information on the nature of, and responses to, crime in schools and school environments. Data are drawn from several federally funded collections, including the National Crime Victimization Survey, Youth Risk Behavior Survey, School Survey on Crime and Safety, and the Schools and Staffing Survey.

This report is part of BJS’s Indicators of School Crime and Safety Series. More information is available online.

Training and Technical Assistance Needs Assessment Published

OJJDP’s National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC) has released National Needs Assessment of Juvenile Justice Professionals: 2010, a report that provides the most comprehensive and detailed picture to date of the needs of agencies and organizations serving the juvenile justice field. More than 1,600 juvenile justice professionals from throughout the nation completed the survey. The primary populations that respondents serve are at-risk youth and youth on parole, probation, or under community supervision.

NIJ Releases New CBRN Standard for Law Enforcement

NIJ has released a new standard for protective suits that law enforcement officers can wear when they risk exposure to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) substances. This standard, the first CBRN standard to specifically address the needs of law enforcement, establishes the minimum requirements and test methods for ensembles and ensemble elements designed to protect law enforcement personnel. Such hazards include chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals, biologically derived toxins or pathogens, and radiological particulate hazards that may inflict bodily harm, incapacitation, or death.

This standard specifically addresses law enforcement needs related to human threats, stealth operations, and durability and dexterity, and provides four levels of protection from CBRN hazards. Complete information is available on NIJ’s Standards and Testing page.

National AMBER Alert Symposium

More than 300 participants from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and various European countries attended OJJDP’s annual National AMBER Alert Symposium in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 16–18, 2010. The participants represented federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement; family members of missing and abducted children; broadcasters and other members of the media; missing children clearinghouses; AMBER Alert coordinators; transportation departments; and other stakeholders in the AMBER Alert program.

Topics discussed during the symposium included case studies of child abduction, emerging and best practices, collaboration with media partners, child abduction response teams, families and survivors, AMBER Alert in Indian Country, AMBER Alert‘s Southern Border Initiative, predatory behaviors, and human trafficking. In addition, awards were presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the AMBER Alert programs in their communities.

To date, 525 abducted children have been brought home safely as a direct result of an AMBER Alert. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 15 tribes have AMBER Alert plans. Additionally, OJP is providing training and technical assistance to expand child recovery efforts in tribal communities.


National Workshop on SORNA Implementation

During the 2011 National Workshop on the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) on January 11, 2011, in Washington, D.C., the SMART office will provide assistance to help jurisdictions meet the upcoming July 2011 SORNA implementation deadline. Registration is free, but attendance is by invitation only. For more information, contact GetSMART@usdoj.gov.

International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment

The Chadwick Center for Children and Families at Children’s Hospital–San Diego will hold its annual international conference on January 22–28, 2011, in San Diego, California. The conference will focus on multidisciplinary best practice efforts to prevent, investigate, treat, and prosecute child and family maltreatment. Registration is available online.

National Association for Court Management Mid-Year Conference

On February 6–8, 2011, the National Association for Court Management will host its mid-year conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The event will focus on case-flow management improvements, promoting improved court leadership and governance, and preparing for and responding to trends. Online registration is open.

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America National Leadership Forum

Professionals, policymakers, parents, educators, and researchers are invited to attend the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America National Leadership Forum in National Harbor, Maryland, on February 7–10, 2011. This year’s conference will focus on the future of efforts to prevent, treat, and research the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other addictive and harmful substances. Registration information is available online.

National Conference on Bullying

The National Conference on Bullying will be held on February 14–16, 2011, in Orlando, Florida. It will examine the causes, prevention, and mitigation of bullying; bullying laws and liability for schools; online Internet bullying; sexual orientation bullying; bullying among girls; and gangs and their connection to bullying, among other topics. More information is available online.

Annual American Academy of Forensic Sciences Meeting

On February 21–26, 2011, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences will host its annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois. This scientific meeting allows professionals to present the most current information, research, and updates in forensic sciences. Online registration is available.

American Probation and Parole Association Winter Training Institute

This institute—to be held February 27–March 2, 2011, in Orlando, Florida—will focus on offender supervision, treatment, mental health, gender issues, and reentry. More information is available online.

Funding Opportunities

OJP’s Web site includes a complete list of all open solicitations. Just click on Funding at the top of the site to review all funding opportunities. Don’t forget to check the Web site regularly for updates.

Contact Us

If you have questions, comments, or feedback, please contact OJP’s Office of Communications. To register to receive Justice Resource Update in your inbox, please visit www.ncjrs.gov.

Justice Resource Update is designed to help criminal justice practitioners stay informed and better serve their constituents by providing valuable information about federal resources, advancements in the field, and training opportunities. We strive to provide information you can use, and we welcome your input.

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