Report Date

July 2020


The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence hosted the National Opioid and Emerging Drug Threats Policy and Practice Forum on July 18–19, 2019, in Washington, DC. The forum explored ways in which government agencies and programs, law enforcement officials, forensic laboratory personnel, medical examiners and coroners, researchers, and other experts can cooperate to respond to problems associated with drug abuse and misuse. Panelists from these stakeholder groups discussed ways to address concerns such as rapidly expanding crime laboratory caseloads; workforce shortages and resiliency programs; analytical challenges associated with fentanyl analogs and drug mixtures; laboratory quality control; surveillance systems to inform response; and policy related to stakeholder, research, and resource constraints. The NIJ Policy and Practice Forum built off the momentum of previous stakeholder meetings convened by NIJ and other agencies to discuss the consequences of this national epidemic, including the impact it has had on public safety, public health, and the criminal justice response. The forum discussed topics at a policy level and addressed best practices used across the forensic community.

Click here to read the full Report 

Click here to view the archived Forum

About the Authors/Editors:

Jeri D. Ropero-Miller, PhD, F-ABFT is the senior director of the Center for Forensic Sciences (CFS) at RTI International and the Project Director for NIJ’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE).

Crystal M. Daye, MPA, manages the Investigative Science Program (ISP) at RTI and conducts research on law enforcement operations, forensics, and improving the criminal justice response to victims of crime.

Sarah Norsworthy, MS is a research forensic scientist in RTI’s CFS and serves as a DNA subject matter expert and project manager for the FTCOE.

Paige Presler-Jur, MS is a Research Public Policy Analyst in RTI’s ISP and supports research initiatives addressing health, social, and justice issues in the contexts of substance misuse and abuse community programs, sexual assault case reform, forensics, and multidisciplinary approaches.

Rebecca Shute, MS is an innovation analyst for RTI’s Innovation Advisors and supports the reports development and technology transition activities on behalf of the NIJ’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence.

Hope Smiley-McDonald, PhD, directs the Investigative Sciences program and conducts research on forensic agency operations and needs, drug surveillance, and social and justice issues in the context of substance use.

NIJ’s FTCoE and Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group


Report Date

December 2019


Recognizing the many challenges associated with adopting new technologies and other innovations in forensic science organizations, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) formed the Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group (FLN-TWG) in 2018. FLN-TWG provides a forum for which forensic practitioners and researchers can develop coordinated approaches to addressing technology implementation challenges for the forensic science community.

Housed at NIJ and supported by the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE), FLN-TWG membership is comprised of crime laboratory directors or managers and academic researchers who meet regularly to share ideas, assess the impact of new technologies on the criminal justice system, and identify paths forward for implementation. The group’s mandate encompasses the full range of needs facing federal, state, local, and tribal jurisdictions; FLN-TWG is designed to clear roadblocks that have prevented broad, successful adoption of promising technologies.

This in-brief provides a summary of FLN-TWG’s goals and outputs of the first meeting and provides a list of programs and resources that can promote technology adoption by crime laboratories.

“I’m very pleased to welcome the newly created working group members and grateful for their willingness to take part in this important endeavor. I look forward to hearing their valuable input and working together toward strengthening the relationship between the Justice Department and forensic science practitioners.”

              —David Muhlhausen, NIJ Director

Click here to read the full In-Brief



ARTICLE: NIJ Supporting Crime Lab Directors and the Formation of the Forensic
Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group, May 29, 2018

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ARTICLE: NIJ Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group
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Department of Justice Priorities, Forensic Science Policies, and Grant Programs

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