On Sept. 20, 2007, NIJ established the Weapons and Protective Systems Technologies Center of Excellence (WPSTC) at The Pennsylvania State University as part of the NLECTC System. The Center was re-designated a Center of Excellence again in 2010. The Center supports NIJ’s efforts to enhance the safety of law enforcement and corrections officers. The WPSTC includes programs and projects within Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory (ARL), its Institute for Non-Lethal Defense Technologies (INLDT) and its Pennsylvania Transportation Institute (PTI), as well as within the University of Denver, leveraging myriad multidisciplinary research units across these universities.
The Center provides testing, evaluation, specialized technology assistance programs and other services with regard to tools and technologies intended for use by law enforcement, corrections and other criminal justice agencies and organizations. This program furthers NIJ’s mission by improving the safety and effectiveness of criminal justice technology, and the access of law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies to that technology.
The WPSTC supports NIJ research, development, test and evaluation activities within the improvised explosive device defeat, less-lethal devices, personal protective equipment and pursuit management investment portfolios (and related areas) by:
- Assisting NIJ in identifying criminal justice technology requirements by coordinating and conducting Technology Working Groups and conducting focused studies.
- Supporting NIJ research and development programs by assisting with program objective definition and refinement, assessing ongoing NIJ projects, scouting relevant technology efforts and participating in national and regional groups.
- Testing, evaluating and demonstrating technologies by conducting comparative laboratory and field testing, conducting and coordinating operational evaluations, and conducting, facilitating and coordinating demonstrations with law enforcement and corrections agencies.
- Supporting the adoption of new technologies by introducing new technologies to practitioners, providing practitioner requirements to developers, assisting developers in commercialization and providing support to first-adopter law enforcement agencies for effectiveness evaluation.
- Coordinating and developing technology guidelines for planning, selecting and implementing technology solutions.
- Providing technology assistance to criminal justice agencies across the country, including providing science and engineering advice and assisting first adopters with new tools and methods.