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The NIJ Standards and Testing Program fosters development of equipment standards and related conformity assessment programs that specifically address the needs of law enforcement, corrections and other criminal justice agencies. The goal is to ensure to the degree possible that equipment is safe, reliable and performs according to established minimum requirements.
Whenever practical, NIJ adopts existing standards or adapts them to the needs of the criminal justice community. To the extent possible, NIJ supports the development of standards and conformity assessment programs by other public- and private-sector standards organizations. Only when another standards organization cannot be encouraged to do so, will NIJ develop an NIJ standard or establish a conformity assessment program.
NIJ standards are voluntary standards. Manufacturers are neither required nor mandated to follow them. They are also performance standards. They do not specify a particular solution, but rather define what a potential solution must accomplish.
Even though NIJ standards are not regulatory in nature, they are nevertheless influential because they articulate best practice. They obtain their influence from an agency's consideration of the legal or monetary penalties that may ensue as a consequence of a bad outcome resulting from not adopting a standard.
Having a standard and associated conformity assessment program provides the end user with performance information on key equipment characteristics, provides a level of confidence in a product's fitness for use and allows comparison of products based on standardized testing methods and minimum performance requirements.
NIJ standards, and the other standards it supports, are an articulation of the criminal justice practitioner's operational needs and associated performance levels with regard to particular tools and technology. They reflect the practical experiences of the community in the field articulated in such a way as to enable testing in a valid and consistently replicable manner.