Office of Law Enforcement Standards

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The Office of Law Enforcement Standards (OLES) "helps law enforcement, corrections, and criminal justice agencies ensure that the equipment they purchase and the technologies they use are safe, dependable, and effective. OLES, with a staff of nine, is based in Gaithersburg, MD, and is one of the two Offices within the Electronics and Electrical Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology(NIST)."[1]

"OLES was established as a matrix management organization in 1971 and was based on recommendations from the President's Commission on Crime. The Commission report, entitled Crime in a Free Society, recommended that a Federal agency be appointed to assist criminal justice agencies by developing equipment standards and providing technical support and assistance. The report indicated that the then National Bureau of Standards was one such agency suitable for this task. As a result, the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) signed a Memorandum of Understanding and the Office was established. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), which is the research arm of the Department of Justice, is the primary sponsor of OLES projects. Projects also have been supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)."[2]

"OLES fulfills its mission by applying science and technology to the needs of the criminal justice community, including law enforcement, corrections, and forensic science as well as the fire service. The Office focuses on the development of performance standards, which are promulgated as voluntary national standards by the NIJ. OLES also conducts research on protective clothing, communication systems, emergency equipment, investigative aids, protective and enforcement equipment, security systems, traffic enforcement systems, vehicles, weapons and ammunition, and analytical techniques and standard reference materials (SRM) used by the forensic science community. The composition of the project portfolio varies depending on the priorities of the criminal justice community at any given time, and, as necessary, draws upon the resources of NIST's Measurement and Standards Laboratories and outside agencies."[3]

"OLES has published, mostly through NIJ, more than 250 standards, guides, and technical reports over its 31-year history. These publications have dealt with such topics as emergency vehicle warning devices, police clothing and equipment, components of intrusion alarm systems, physical security of door and window assemblies, metal and explosive vapor detectors, arson accelerant detectors, and narcotic test kits. OLES also developed standard reference materials for glass comparisons and DNA profiling and reference collections of automobile paints and synthetic fibers for use by forensic laboratories."[4]


Office of Law Enforcement Standards
100 Bureau Drive, M/S 8102
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8102
301-975-2757 Telephone
301-948-0978 Facsimile

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