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Term of the Month

Defining Criminal Justice Research

Welcome to NIJ’s Term of the Month. Each month we are featuring a term from our scientific research portfolios informing significant American justice system issues and solutions.

May 2023 - Forensic Intelligence

The forensic intelligence model is an analytical strategy that combines using forensic data (both preliminary and confirmed results) with situational and other relevant crime data (such as open-source databases) to produce case leads, link cases, or inform investigative, tactical, operational, or strategic policing. In this strategy, data derived from the forensic analysis of physical evidence can inform the investigation. The forensic data produced for forensic intelligence may not necessarily be the complete forensic report needed for presentation in court, but it can potentially inform investigations if integrated in a timely manner. 

Law enforcement can use this model to identify crime trends, guide investigations, and enhance public safety. It allows investigators to leverage local forensic testing results and supporting details from local, state, and even federal law enforcement databases, to create a package that is generally easier to digest than a traditional forensic laboratory analysis. 

Collectively, forensic intelligence is based on the subject matter experts’ cumulative experiences from the field, the published literature on the topic, and discussions with other experts. Before using this approach, law enforcement should consider their organizational structure, key partnerships, communications capabilities, and the development of necessary resources. The goal is to eliminate silos of information and encourage communication regarding the connectivity of all the evidence for a specific case, linking cases and informing policing strategies to prevent crime. 

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Date Created: January 28, 2021