After describing the role of the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in developing and publishing voluntary standards for equipment used by criminal justice professionals, this paper describes the current status of standards development for four types of equipment.
The purpose of NIJ's development of such voluntary equipment standards is to ensure that the equipment used by criminal justice personnel is safe, reliable, and performs according to minimum performance requirements. NIJ standards are consensus-based and designed to support the users' needs when using the equipment. The standards are also used for NIJ's testing and comparing of products to determine whether they comply with the NIJ minimum standards for the product. Standards have been developed for a variety of equipment, including ballistic-resistant body armor, stab-resistant body armor, restraints, bomb suits, and offender tracking systems. In developing equipment standards, NIJ establishes Special Technical Committees (STCs), which consist of actively serving law enforcement officers from federal, state, and local criminal justice agencies, test laboratories, and subject-matter experts knowledgeable in standards development and product certification. Draft standards are published for public comment, revised in response to comments, and then published in final form. At the time of this report's issuance, four STCs are working on standards in various stages of development. Progress to date is reported for STCs related to standards for ballistic-resistant body armor, stab-resistant body armor, civil disturbance unit personal protective equipment, and law enforcement firearms. Under NIJ's Compliance Testing Program (CTP), vendor equipment is tested and evaluated in accordance with NIJ standards to ensure compliance with minimum performance standards.
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