At the core of the NLECTC System is the notion of "translational technology," simply put, we link research with practice. It works in other fields, such as medicine. It also works in criminal justice. As a program of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the NLECTC System is the conduit between researchers and criminal justice professionals in the field for technology issues. NLECTC works with criminal justice professionals to identify urgent and emerging technology needs. NIJ sponsors research and development or identifies best practices to address those needs. NLECTC centers demonstrate new technologies, test commercially available technologies and publish results — linking research with practice.

Originally created in 1994 as a program of NIJ's Office of Science and Technology, the NLECTC System plays a crucial role in enabling NIJ to carry out its critical mission to assist state, local, tribal and federal law enforcement, corrections and other criminal justice agencies in addressing their technology needs and challenges.

The NLECTC System provides:

  • Scientific and technical support to NIJ's research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) projects.
  • Support for the transfer and adoption of technology into practice by law enforcement and corrections agencies, courts and crime laboratories.
  • Assistance in developing and disseminating equipment performance standards and technology guides.
  • Assistance in the demonstration, testing and evaluation of criminal justice tools and technologies.
  • Technology information and general and specialized technology assistance.
  • Assistance in setting NIJ's research agenda by convening practitioner-based advisory groups to help to identify criminal justice technology needs and gaps.

The NLECTC System outreach efforts currently include a center serving the specific needs of small and rural law enforcement, the Small, Rural, Tribal and Border Regional Center (SRTB).

SMCC offers a resource and outreach mechanism for state, major city and county criminal justice system partners, with a mission of ensuring that larger criminal justice agencies (those having 50 or more sworn personnel) have unbiased access to a full range of relevant scientific and technology-related information. SRTB publicizes its programs and services to small, rural, tribal and border agencies across the country.

The efforts of these centers complement those of NLECTC-National, which coordinates NIJ's Compliance Testing program and standards development efforts for a variety of equipment used in the public safety arena, and the Centers of Excellence (CoEs), which support NIJ's RDT&E efforts in specific portfolio areas. The CoEs focus on the following technology topic areas: Communications; Corrections; Forensics; Information and Geospatial; Sensor, Surveillance and Biometrics; and Weapons and Protective Systems. The National Institute of Standards and Technology's Law Enforcement Standards Office (OLES) provides scientific and research support to these efforts.

For information on a specific center, click on the list below.

Also view the center fact sheets and reports.

Helping to Ensure Research Priorities Are Based on Practitioner Needs

The NLECTC System supports NIJ's RDT&E process and goal of setting research priorities based on practitioner needs by sponsoring a series of Technology Working Groups (TWGs) and Constituent Advisory Groups (CAGs), which provide input to the Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Advisory Council (LECTAC). Together, these groups form a bridge between the criminal justice community and the NIJ Office of Science and Technology.