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One of the most disturbing statistics to come across my desk is the sheer number of law enforcement officers who die in traffic accidents. Most years, we lose more officers to accidents than we do to shootings. Although some accidental deaths involve auto collisions, many take place when an officer leaves a vehicle and is walking or standing on the road. Firefighters and other first responders face similar hazards.
The National Institute of Justice has teamed up with the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Fire Administration to sponsor several scientific studies of roadside safety. This issue of the NIJ Journal presents important research findings that may help improve officer safety on the roads. We asked scientists and engineers to look at everything from what color of flashing lights will best alert drivers to an emergency to where reflective materials should be placed on vehicles to maximize visibility. We hope these studies will contribute to safer working conditions for law enforcement officers throughout the country.
In this issue, we also present a very different kind of study that could save lives. An intensive look at how terrorists learn — and fail to learn — the skills they need to launch "successful" attacks highlights certain weaknesses that law enforcement agencies can exploit as they try to detect and deter terror strikes.
For policymakers, this issue of the Journal presents research on the long view of crime and a review of the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy. Both articles give insights into successful programs.
Finally, our cover story on elder abuse shows how NIJ forensic research is helping law enforcement document these horrifying crimes. We take an in-depth look at some special problems that prosecutors face when these cases reach the courtroom.
Acting Director, National Institute of Justice
About This Article
This article appeared in NIJ Journal Issue 265, April 2010.