There continues to be an increasing awareness within the law enforcement and corrections communities of the need to achieve more positive outcomes as a result of critical incident interventions where maintaining order and safety is paramount. The threats from improvised explosive devices (IEDs), violently aggressive individuals and crowds, and barricaded suspects with hostages, persist as challenges to law enforcement, based on our research and review of relevant literature including. The increasingly complex security requirements at public venues and events along with a continuing need to protect both our criminal justice professionals and innocent bystanders underscore the ongoing need for readily available subject matter expertise and easily accessible research support.
We have witnessed the growing risk of IED deployment by terrorists around the globe, even recently here in the United States. Technical and research support for explosive ordnance technicians as well as other first responders is necessary to minimize the destructive potential of such devices. Legitimately organized, large-scale public demonstrations and events (such as sporting events, political rallies, and international economic conferences) have, at times, spiraled into angry mob events where innocent bystanders and public and private property are put at significant risk. Emerging technologies and new concepts of tactics and techniques must be made part of the day-to-day equipment available to our police professionals. There is a clear requirement in this area for a professional research center such as Penn State can provide that is capable of supporting police departments and correctional institutions, both large and small, with technical expertise and a robust independent test and evaluation capability that in essence provide a "reach back" capability.
Criminal justice agencies and organizations across the United States clearly recognize the need for recurring broadly-scoped assessments of the weapons and protective systems under consideration for purchase from commercial sources. When local police or correctional agencies consider the procurement of specialized munitions, new weapons and protective equipment, there are only manufacturer specifications and performance characteristics upon which to base a decision "to buy or not to buy." Lacking objective data, purchase decisions are often more difficult than they need to be. Often these departments have small or non-existent research and testing budgets.