The NIJ Standards and Testing Program develops and publishes equipment standards that specifically address the needs of law enforcement, corrections and other criminal justice agencies. The goal is to ensure to the degree possible that equipment is safe, reliable and performs according to established minimum requirements.
NIJ standards are voluntary standards. Manufacturers are neither required nor mandated to follow them. They are also performance standards. They do not specify a particular solution, but rather define what a potential solution must accomplish.
Even though NIJ standards are not regulatory in nature, they are nevertheless influential because they articulate best practice. They obtain their influence from an agency's consideration of the legal or monetary penalties that may ensue as a consequence of a bad outcome resulting from not adopting a standard.
Having a standard provides the end user with performance information on key equipment characteristics, provides a level of confidence in a product's fitness for use and allows comparison of products based on standardized testing methods and minimum performance requirements.
NIJ standards are an articulation of the criminal justice practitioner's operational needs and associated performance levels with regard to particular tools and technology. They reflect the practical experiences of the community in the field articulated in such a way as to enable testing in a valid and consistently replicable manner.