Criminal Justice News

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Technical Reports Available Through National Criminal Justice Reference Service

Through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, the National Institute of Justice has made available two new final technical reports. These reports result from NIJ-funded projects, but were not published by the U.S. Department of Justice:
  • Randomized-Trial Evaluation of a Law Enforcement Application for Smartphones and Laptops that Uses GIS and Location-Based Services' to Pinpoint Persons-of-Interest (pdf, 96 pages). This report summarizes a project that developed, implemented and evaluated a GIS-enabled application that dynamically identifies the location of persons of interest, including gang members, sex offenders and parolees. P3i pushes the location data to officers' smartphones, tablets and mobile display terminals/laptops. The study found that officers who used the P3i application on GPS-enabled devices were more productive than controls and more productive than they had been during the prior year. Follow-up analyses suggested a variety of individual difference factors were also correlated with increases in productivity. In focus group discussions, the officers expressed great enthusiasm for the P3i application.
  • Mobilization of Crime Mapping & Intelligence Gathering (pdf, 258 pages). The past few years have seen tremendous growth in law enforcement deployment of smartphones. This project had two goals: first, to identify the mobile data needs of law enforcement officers and build custom apps to deliver and capture relevant information; second, to evaluate the effectiveness of smartphone and custom app deployment using rigorous experimental methodology. Surveys and focus groups were conducted with sworn officers, civilians working in field positions and civilian supervisors in the Redlands (Calif.) Police Department. The project was divided into four phases over a two-year period: needs assessment, software development, software implementation and implementation assessment. During the study period, there was minimal adoption of both the NearMe and FI apps during the study period. Although users generally recognized the value in digitizing work processes, the apps were criticized for being difficult to use and generally not conducive to existing workflows.
  • Identifying and Communicating Genetic Determinants of Facial Features: Practical Considerations in Forensic Molecular Photofitting (pdf, 95 pages)For this report, the author measured face shape in population samples with mixed West African and European ancestry from the United States, Brazil and Cape Verde. Using bootstrapped response-based imputation modeling (BRIM), the author uncovered the relationships between facial variation and the effects of sex, genomic ancestry and a set of craniofacial candidate genes that show signatures of accelerated evolution. Results on a set of 20 genes showing significant effects on facial features provide support for this approach as a novel means to identify genes affecting normal-range facial features and for approximating the appearance of a face from genetic markers.
  • Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP), Final Report (pdf, 551 pages) describes findings about unsubmitted sexual assault kits in Wayne County, Mich. A multidisciplinary team investigated the situation and found a number of effective and sustainable responses and ways to prevent the problem from recurring. The team found several underlying "risk factors" that contributed to the large quantity of unsubmitted SAKs in Detroit, including:
  • Victim-blaming beliefs and behaviors by police.
  • No written protocol for submitting kits to the lab for testing.
  • Budget cuts that reduced the number of law enforcement and crime lab personnel.
  • High turnover in police leadership.
  • Lack of community-based victim advocacy services.

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