This article discusses the rationale for and features of the National Institute of Justice's recently launched Criminal Justice Testing and Evaluation Consortium (CJTEC).
The CJTEC is a new program that unites NIJ's compliance testing and standards development efforts with a new focus on identifying the criminal justice community's most important technology needs and developing rigorous and objective data on technology relevant to those needs. The CJTEC Director and Chief Forensic Scientists Jeri Ropero-Miller indicates that rather than attempting to influence current practice, the new program focuses on "getting ahead of the curve on innovative technologies." It is designed to assist the criminal justice community in accessing objective information as early as possible in the adoption process. CJTEC will focus NIJ's resources on rigorous testing and evaluation of technologies expected to impact practice in the next 3 to 5 years. CJTEC has developed four interlocking tasks that combine to bring these results to the courts, corrections, and law enforcement domains. Task 1 is technology foraging or scouting. This involves an assessment of the full range of technologies in commercial development and what is close to implementation for implementation by criminal justice agencies. Task 2 involves the testing and evaluation of technologies in criminal justice settings. Task 3 involves the convening of working groups of subject matter experts, who identify specific research needs in assigned focus areas. Their reports will determine where to focus the efforts of Task 1 and Task 2. Task 4 will back up the efforts by continuing NIJ's standards development process.