Last modified: Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Center for Studies of Law in Action honored with international award
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 17, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Center for Studies of Law in Action, which for decades has trained police officers and forensic laboratory technicians, has been honored by the International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety with its most prestigious institutional award.
The council's Institution Widmark Award was presented in recognition of the contributions the IU center has made to alcohol and traffic safety awareness and education. Past recipients of the award include the British Medical Society, the National Safety Council and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Founded in 1970 by the late Robert F. Borkenstein, the IU professor of criminal justice who invented the Breathalyzer in 1953, the center was established to offer short courses on alcohol use and traffic safety.
Two of these week-long courses have become internationally renowned: "The Robert F. Borkenstein Course on Alcohol and Highway Safety: Testing, Research and Litigation," presented continuously for more than 35 years, and "The Effects of Drugs on Human Performance and Behavior," first presented in 2002.
"These courses are taught by 22 of the world's leading forensic alcohol and drug experts," said Kip Schlegel, IU associate professor of criminal justice, who now directs the center. "To date, the center's instructors have trained over 5,000 law enforcement officers, laboratory technicians and forensic supervisors, representing all 50 states and over a dozen countries. The effects of these courses have been widespread."
In the Borkenstein course, the primary emphasis is on alcohol in relation to traffic safety, covering basic alcohol chemistry and physiology, principles of measurement of alcohol in blood and breath, and how to present alcohol information in the courtroom.
Under Executive Director Barry Logan, toxicologist for the Washington State Patrol, the center created the drugs course in response to growing concern about the effects of prescription drugs and illegal drugs on driving safety. The drugs course uses the same structure and teaching approach as the alcohol course.
"Improved training has made police officers more willing to take action with drunk drivers, since the officers have greater knowledge of the physiological effects of alcohol on the body and behavior," Schlegel said.
With advances in alcohol and drug testing technology and instrumentation, law enforcement officers and forensic analysts also have greater confidence that they are employing the correct standards and methods as a result of the knowledge they have gained through the courses.
The center plans to expand its training activities into other emerging areas where the law and public safety intersect. One important area is the role that DNA evidence plays in the courtroom and its impact on the criminal justice system. Another is the detection and investigation of cybercrime, which is a growing problem for law enforcement, especially when children become the victims, Schlegel said.
Borkenstein intended that the center have three missions: training, research and service as a repository for information related to alcohol, drugs and traffic safety. It has been successful in all three areas.
"For almost 50 years, the Indiana University Borkenstein Course graduates have been the program administrators, leaders, innovators, pathfinders and trainers for alcohol testing in traffic law enforcement worldwide. That tradition continues today," said Kurt Dubowski, George Lynn Cross Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the University of Oklahoma and principal research scientist at the Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute in Oklahoma City.