Regina B. Schofield, Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs
8th Annual Technologies for Critical Incident Preparedness: Successful Partnerships for Homeland Security
September 6, 2006
Thank you, Glenn [Schmitt]. I'm pleased to be here.
I appreciate the participation of numerous other federal agencies, particularly our partners in the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.
This is the third year that the DHS has participated in this conference. It's the second year that we are joined by DoD. Thank you for your support! I'm also happy to see so many of you here who are from state and local agencies.
We know that critical incident management isn't just what happens in the aftermath of events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. In your individual communities, I'm sure there have been incidents that have challenged your skill and your resources. That's why we convene this conference to bring together you, who are on the front lines, with those who, with your input, have developed the tools and technology that can make your jobs easier.
Believe it or not, this conference started eight years ago as a transportation security conference that focused on how state and local public safety officials could work better with the federal government on critical incidents of all kinds.
This morning, you have heard about pandemic preparedness and response, just one possible "critical incident" that you have to plan for and potentially address. The agenda for this meeting covers everything from search and rescue to weapons of mass destruction.
The support of so many federal agencies for this conference highlights the fact that the federal government understands that critical incidents require a multi-agency, coordinated response. We understand that you, the state and local public safety community, will bear the lion's share of the work in responding to these events.
We are working closely with our partners, particularly DHS and DoD, to ensure that you have the tools and technology to do your job.
OJP, through NIJ, has a collaborative technology development agreement with the DHS Directorate of Science & Technology. We also participate in a three-party agreement with DHS and DoD's Homeland Defense Office. The purpose of this agreement is to foster the transfer of military technology and equipment to support homeland security and public safety.
OJP is not an operational agency like the FBI. Our mission is to improve the capacity of the American criminal justice system. We do this by providing local and state components of the criminal justice system technical assistance, evidence-based knowledge and statistics, information on promising practices, and funding for equipment and training.
We also develop new tools and technologies, many of which I invite you to see in the Federal Technology Demonstration area.
In addition, we develop performance standards and guidelines for the development and evaluation of criminal justice tools and technologies. And we manage a performance-based testing program to identify and mark tools and technologies that conform to those standards.
Two OJP components play a key role in building the capacity of law enforcement agencies to deal with critical incidents. They are the Bureau of Justice Assistance and NIJ.
BJA is DOJ's chief grant-making bureau. Its mission is to provide leadership and services in grant administration and criminal justice policy development to support local, state, and tribal justice strategies designed to build safer communities.
NIJ is DOJ's research, development, and evaluation arm. It is the national focal point for criminal justice science and technology development, and it provides objective, independent, evidence-based knowledge and tools to enhance the administration of justice and public safety at all levels of government.
NIJ uses technology working groups composed of knowledgeable practitioners to guide its science and technology research. These working groups help identify the technology needs of the field, including the need for innovative means to positively identify individuals or for detecting suicide bombers before they strike.
The working group process is managed by our National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center System. The principal role of the system's 10 regional and specialty centers is to provide technical assistance to local and state criminal justice practitioners.
In addition to these efforts, I'd like to briefly highlight my agency's work related to information sharing and forensic science. Improved information sharing and communication interoperability are vital to dealing effectively with a critical incident.
BJA administers the Regional Information Sharing System and the RISS Secure Intranet. RISS is a nationwide consortium of six regional law enforcement/criminal justice centers that share criminal intelligence information and data on terrorism, narcotics trafficking, and other crimes across jurisdictional boundaries via RISSNet. RISSNet is now interconnected with the Homeland Security Information Network and the FBI's secure Law Enforcement on Line system. This gives investigators a powerful tool to combat terrorism, and crime in general.
BJA, working with NIJ, also manages the DOJ Global Information Sharing Initiative. Global seeks to improve the administration of justice, and protect the public, by promoting practices and technologies that allow the secure sharing of justice information between law enforcement agencies.
Global developed the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan. NCISP is a formal intelligence sharing initiative that addresses the security and intelligence needs recognized after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. The plan outlines a nationwide communications strategy that will link all levels of law enforcement personnel, including officers on the streets, intelligence analysts, unit commanders, and police executives for the purpose of sharing critical data.
NIJ's Information Led Policing Program supports GLOBAL and the FBI's National Data Exchange programs by providing research and development of key information technologies. These technologies range from user and system authentication and authorization to sophisticated search engines and the next generation of information-linking and extraction tools. The NDEx is to be a repository of national indices and a pointer system for local, state, tribal, federal, and inter-governmental law enforcement entities. This system also will be a virtual fusion point for the correlation of national criminal justice information with certain national security data.
In addition, with DHS, we are co-funding the development of a prototype software that would give bomb technicians ready access to needed data at the scene of an incident. This effort also involves the FBI and ATF. NIJ's Communications Technology program, or CommTech, is focused on providing solutions to both short- and long-term wireless interoperability problems. We are working closely on this effort with Homeland Security's SAFECOM office, and NIJ participates in the SAFECOM Executive Committee and Advisory Group.
Detecting and dealing with suicide bombers is an area in which DOJ and DHS are working closely with several DoD agencies. Both DOJ and DHS rely heavily on Air Force Research Laboratory personnel and facilities to manage and test the technologies that they are developing. And, last year, the Los Angeles Police Department evaluated one of these developmental technologies under an agreement with NIJ.
This year saw the commercialization of the Brijot BIS-WD Prime millimeter wave weapons detection system. This system was selected for evaluation in the Department of Homeland Security's Rail Security Pilot program. This system, which took almost a decade of NIJ-funded research to develop, is designed to detect concealed weapons, such as a bomb belt worn under a suicide bomber's clothing, from a safe distance. In addition, our social scientists are working with the Israeli Ministry of Public Security to evaluate the best practices to deal with suicide bombers.
Forensic science is another area that has the potential to improve our ability to respond effectively to a terrorist incident or a natural disaster. Forensic science is important in identifying perpetrators. As 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina unfortunately showed, it also is an important tool in identifying victims.
I encourage you to check our Web site for two special reports that will explain more about this subject. One is called Mass Casualty Incidents: A Guide for Human Forensic Evidence. The other is called Identifying Victims Using DNA: A Guide for Families.
As I close, I recognize that my remarks have focused on OJP's work on tools and technology for dealing with critical incidents. But all of us at the Department of Justice, and at the other federal agencies represented here, know that technology is only as good as the people who use it! And you are the people your communities rely on!
On behalf of the Attorney General, I want to thank you for your dedication and service to your communities and the country. You are important partners in our efforts to make the country safer. We are committed to providing you with the knowledge, tools, and resources you need to do your jobs.