Public Release: 

Sandia National Laboratories To Test Law Enforcement Technologies For U.S. Department Of Justice

DOE/Sandia National Laboratories

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) announced this week that it has named Sandia National Laboratories a Satellite Facility to support the Institute's multi-disciplinary science and technology development program. NIJ is the research and development branch of the U.S. Department of Justice for state and local law enforcement and corrections.

The official announcement was made by Rep. Steve Schiff (R-NM) and David Boyd, Director, NIJ's Office of Science and Technology, on January 30 at Sandia's New Mexico site.

Sandia facilities and technical expertise will be focused on three areas in this new work:

1) testing and evaluation of proposed and existing technology and equipment for state and local law enforcement and corrections;

2) researching and developing related activities to support law enforcement "special teams" such as SWAT and bomb squads; and

3) supporting NIJ's Rocky Mountain Regional Center in Denver in explosive and drug detection.

The one-year, $500,000 agreement with NIJ will complement Sandia's work for the Department of Energy (DOE) in research and development of security technologies. Over the past 20 years, Sandia has developed state-of-the-art physical security technologies for DOE, the Department of Defense and various other federal agencies. In particular, Sandia has been involved in research and development, design, and implementation of detection, entry control, delay, and response technologies.

Sandia also brings to the table its explosives detection and bomb disablement expertise. Engineers in the Contraband Detection Technologies Department are developing a walk-through explosives detection portal for the Federal Aviation Administration; Sandia's Engineering Projects & Explosives Applications Department has hosted two advanced training programs, Operation Albuquerque 1 and 2, for select bomb squad personnel from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Some of NIJ's funding for the Satellite Facility will be used to co-sponsor Operation Albuquerque 3, to be held sometime later this year. The Albuquerque Police Department has co-hosted the Operation Albuquerque events.

Rep. Schiff, a supporter of using technology to increase public safety, said, "This is great news, not only for Sandia, but also for law enforcement. The Labs will be better able to use its vast technical expertise to assist law enforcement around the country and the National Institute of Justice will be better able to assist state and local law enforcement in its efforts to fight crime in our communities." Rep. Schiff is Chair of the House Science Committee's Subcommittee on Basic Research and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime.

One of the first tasks Sandia will tackle is an analysis of currently available explosive detection technology and equipment. This will be done in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Regional Center, located at Denver University.

Since 1992, Sandia has evaluated three major criminal justice technologies for NIJ -- sticky foam, aqueous foam and a user-authorized safe gun (see chart for project descriptions). Sandia currently has a visiting scientist at NIJ in Washington, D.C. on a year-long assignment to provide technical assistance and project management support on law enforcement technology evaluation.

Dennis Miyoshi, Director of Sandia's Security Systems and Technology Center, said that the concept of a Satellite Facility to test technology for the criminal justice community grew, in part, from the examination Sandia did in late 1995 of the Quadro Tracker, a hand-held device claimed by its manufacturers to be able to detect "atomic emissions" from narcotics, explosives and even stray pets and lost golf balls. The device functioned akin to a divining rod and was being sold to law enforcement agencies and schools nationwide. This activity led to NIJ's interest in having Sandia available for quick response testing of new devices being marketed to their customer base.

"With so many devices on the market these days that claim such a wide variety of successes, the law enforcement community realized a need to be able to quickly and efficiently test these technologies," explains Debra Spencer, Program Manager for the Satellite Facility. "We are able to offer our expertise to help them do just that."

Under this agreement, NIJ will be able to contact Sandia about reviewing a particular technology or new product and, within a few days or weeks, that technology or product will have been tested and evaluated.

Miyoshi says that being a Satellite Facility will help the Labs support the needs of NIJ. "We'll be more a part of their team now," explains Miyoshi. "We'll be able to develop a clearer understanding of their needs through this partnership."

"Our function will be to validate existing technologies or new concepts, at the request of NIJ, and provide assurance that a product will work. I see this as a perfect role for a national laboratory, acting on behalf of the government."

Although the Security Systems and Technology Center will coordinate the NIJ projects, Miyoshi predicts that much of the work will be done in other parts of the Labs. Examples of this work include chemical analysis, explosives technology and tracking and tagging capabilities.

Sandia is a multiprogram Department of Energy laboratory, operated by a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation. With facilities located in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national defense, energy, environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

History: Sandia's research for NIJ

Project Date Description Status
Sticky foam 1992 Developed at Sandia in late 1970's for nuclear safeguards and security applications. Extremely tacky and tenacious material used to impair and entangle an individual. NIJ research included development of foam dispenser and study of foam for law enforcement and prison use. Final report to NIJ in 1994. Used by Marines in Somalia, 1995, during withdrawal of United Nations peacekeepers. No further research currently underway at Sandia for law enforcement or corrections applications.
Aqueous foam 1994 Used by Sandia since late 1970's for nuclear safeguards and security applications. Has appearance of soap suds and is used to isolate individuals both visually and acoustically. Evaluated for NIJ for correctional applications. Final report to NIJ in early 1996. No further research currently underway at Sandia for law enforcement and corrections applications.
User-authorized safe gun 1994 Sandia researched user-recognizing and authorizing technologies for firearms, as well as developed requirements for law enforcement applications and built models of several different technologies for user evaluation. Final report to NIJ in early 1996. Colt manufacturing is developing a radio frequency model. No further research currently underway at Sandia.

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