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Police Chief Hurtt, Major Cities Chiefs Target Identity Theft Crimes

June 8, 2005 -- At their meeting TODAY (June 8), the chiefs of the United States' and Canada's largest police departments released the results of a year and a half study regarding one of the fastest growing international crimes; Identity Theft. The chiefs from the Major Cities Chiefs Association committed themselves and their organizations to increased cooperation, additional training, and the implementation of policies that will assist victims in these incidents. Identity theft is one of the most difficult crimes to investigate and the harm to victims is significant as they can spend years repairing their credit ratings and damage to their reputations. Identity theft does not respect local, state, or international borders and, as such, tracking down those responsible for the crime and forwarding the case for prosecution is problematic.

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt, President of the MCCA, praised the results of the research and the strong commitment by the members of the association to deal effectively with this crime. "As law enforcement leaders we are striving to ensure that the first line of response to the crime of identity theft; local law enforcement, will use the most up-to-date practices to combat this crime."

The Major Cities Chiefs Association is an organization comprised of the 63 (56 U.S., seven Canadian) largest police and sheriff's departments. The organization is dedicated to fostering the exchange of information and best practices among these "first responders" in the areas of crime, crime prevention, community relations, and homeland security.

Summary of the Study and Recommendations:

In 2004, the Major Cities Chiefs Association received funding to develop a national strategy to combat identity theft. The purpose of the strategy was to provide law enforcement nationally with an approach to identity theft that was consistent across the agencies for greater impact. The national strategy includes the following seven elements:

1. Partnerships and Collaboration. Emphasizing a state-level coordinating center to conduct crime analysis, victim assistance, and statewide investigations. A second recommendation was to encourage collaboration among law enforcement agencies and other relevant entities.

2. Reporting Procedures. That all jurisdictions agree to take reports of identity theft in the geographic jurisdiction where the victim lives regardless of where the crime occurred; and that Uniformed Crime Reports develop a consistent definition of identity theft for reporting purposes.

3. Victim Assistance. All police agencies develop policies and procedures for responding to victims of identity theft.

4. Public Awareness. Create a national public awareness campaign that focuses on prevention and response, as well as reporting.

5. Legislation. Compile and maintain a document outlining identity theft legislation for the use of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors.

6. Information Protection. Fund public education campaign for consumers and merchants to focus specifically on information protection; work on legislation and other requirements to protect information.

7. Training. All police, prosecutor, victim assistance, and private sector organizations should assess their training needs and seek the training needed.

For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.