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.

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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.