Finding Your Guide: Working with a BJA NTTAC TTA Coordinator
By Meredith Greene, Communications Lead, and Kirk Stringfellow, Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator, for the Bureau of Justice Assistance National Training and Technical Assistance Center
At the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC), each requestor comes to us with distinct needs that require tailored support. For example, some requestors have general crime concerns while others have a desire to assess current operations or learn best practices. This is where the BJA NTTAC Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) Coordinator comes in. It is the TTA Coordinator’s role to evaluate the individual request, conduct an assessment to clarify the agency’s specific need, determine the appropriate TTA response, identify the most suitable provider, and provide continuous support throughout the TTA process.
What is a TTA Coordinator?
The TTA Coordinator serves as a primary point of contact and advocate for TTA requests—individually guiding requestors through their unique engagement with BJA NTTAC from start to finish. TTA Coordinators work to understand agencies’ specific needs and then use that information to match the requestor to a highly qualified provider in our database. If an appropriate provider is not identified through this process—perhaps due to a highly specialized request or multiple providers having requisite experience—BJA NTTAC may issue a Request for Proposal for providers to respond to. In some cases—depending on the topic—the request may be referred to one of BJA’s TTA providers for fulfillment under an existing grant program.
After identifying the provider best suited to fulfill the request on behalf of BJA NTTAC, the TTA Coordinator manages the administrative side of the process to ensure seamless delivery of services. All TTA delivered through BJA NTTAC is at no-cost to the requesting agency. Throughout the engagement, the TTA Coordinator continues to work with all parties to maintain open channels of communication and ensure that the requestor’s needs are being met.
Case Study: Harris County, Texas Sheriff’s Office
A recent request from the Harris County, Texas Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) is an example of how TTA Coordinators help to identify a provider and ensure they deliver customized support to meet the needs of requestors. HCSO is understaffed in both their sworn law enforcement and civilian capacities, which is a common challenge faced by agencies throughout the country. The population of Harris County has increased by 500,000 over the last 10 years, while the number of sworn officers has not increased—leading to a strain on resources. HCSO sought assistance from BJA NTTAC through their participation in the National Public Safety Partnership Program to gain a better understanding of how to efficiently and effectively utilize their current resources to combat violent crimes within jurisdictional boundaries and to disseminate real-time data and intelligence to frontline staff. HCSO hopes to develop a dedicated CompStat unit that would allow them to report on trends of criminal activities in Harris County and share information with surrounding areas to reduce crime throughout the region.
BJA NTTAC has several specialized TTA programs—including Technology Assessment and Crime Analysis on Demand (CAoD) that the TTA Coordinator tapped into to find the best provider for HCSO. Our CAoD program focuses on offering TTA to criminal justice agencies to enhance their capabilities to analyze and use data. Our Technology Assessment TTA program helps provide criminal justice agencies the tools they need to enhance or expand their capabilities to use technology. Each of BJA NTTAC’s specialized programs help agencies make informed decisions, respond effectively, and prevent crime. Visit our TTA services page to learn about our other specialized TTA programs.
In the case of HCSO, the provider proposed two onsite visits—the first to conduct the assessment through interviews and focus groups and the second to deliver findings and recommendations. The TTA Coordinator accompanied the provider on the first site visit and assisted with gathering information and data to understand the agencies’ strengths and gaps. The provider conducted focus groups on the two primary topic areas—technology and crime analysis. During the site visit to HCSO, the TTA Coordinator and provider also met with various stakeholders organized into clusters by department—grouping similarly ranked employees together. The interviews focused on hearing the stakeholders’ stories and understanding their experiences and perspectives. Each interview provided a safe space for stakeholders to express their ideas and give honest feedback on their organization’s performance and processes.
While onsite, the TTA Coordinator and provider built trust with each of the stakeholder groups in order to get the best information, which, in turn, will enable the provider to make informed recommendations and develop a tailored plan to meet HCSO’s goals. The information gathered during the crime analysis focus groups will allow the provider to analyze the agency’s analytical capability and crime analysts’ skill sets, evaluate organizational policies and procedures, and identify strategies for enhancing coordination and collaboration of existing resources. The technology focus groups will inform the provider’s recommendations for modernizing and enhancing the agency’s technology hardware, software, and data storage.
After the focus groups conclude, the selected provider will synthesize and analyze the information collected from the discussions to draft a final report. The requestor will then receive this document, which includes summarized findings and recommendations. If needed, the provider may deliver the conclusions onsite or virtually and offer additional assistance with implementation once the agency considers the suggestions. Requestors can then use this document as a roadmap to guide them in implementing desired changes to the agency.
In need of TTA?
Do you have an aspect of your agency that you want to transform or improve? BJA NTTAC can help you find the solutions to your agency’s needs. Our TTA Coordinators look forward to working with you to meet your goals. Visit our TTA services page to learn more, take a look at our TTA request process to see if your inquiry would be a good fit, and fill out a TTA application to get started.
If you are interested in submitting the work of your organization or jurisdiction for consideration in a future TTA Today blog post or in obtaining information related to a particular topic area, please email us at BJANTTAC@ojp.usdoj.gov.
Points of view or opinions on BJA NTTAC’s TTA Today blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice, BJA, or BJA NTTAC. If you have any questions, please contact BJA NTTAC at BJANTTAC@ojp.usdoj.gov.