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 includes the following centers:

  • The Justice Technology Information Center provides a portal for professionals to gather information on innovations in the sustainable technology that is transforming the criminal justice system. It is the “go-to source” for those who make decisions regarding the evaluation, selection and purchase of proven and tested methods, equipment and technology.  JTIC also hosts the NIJ Compliance Testing Program for ballistic- and stab-resistant body armor and other officer safety equipment.
  • The Justice Innovation Center for Small, Rural, Tribal and Border Agencies seeks to identify, evaluate and disseminate technology solutions to the operational challenges of small, rural, tribal, and border law enforcement, courts and corrections agencies.
  • The National Criminal Justice Technology Research, Test and Evaluation Center performs market surveys and hands-on research in the areas on new and developing technologies.
  • The Forensic Science Technology Center of Excellence supports the implementation of new forensic technology by end users.