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FBI, GBI partnering against computer-related crimes

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Law enforcement officials in Georgia are looking forward to a new service which will help them target Internet crimes more effectively.

The Atlanta Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Thursday unveiled its new CyberCrime Training Center. The project is a joint effort with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation

Personnel at the center will provide training for police on a wide variety of computer-related crimes. Those offenses include online child pornography, copyright infringement, identity theft, intellectual property rights, and others.

According to the FBI, the new facility will prove to be an asset as local police strive to curb criminal activity in the 21st Century.

"This training is vital in that individuals and corporations have become more reliant on cyberspace, as a means of conducting business," according to an FBI press release. "As such, law enforcement needs to be prepared to seek out the evidence held in cyberspace, as they work, not only the cyber-based crimes, but even the more traditional crimes that now see the use of computers, e-mails, servers, or the Internet."

FBI Special Agent Stephen Emmett said the new development represents a significant partnership between the state and federal agencies.

"The FBI ... will be sharing its corporate sector partners, who will serve as subject-matter experts in the various emerging technology, in the training of upwards of 70 local area law enforcement agencies throughout the state of Georgia," Emmett explained.

The local agencies will train as members of the state's Cyber Crimes Task Force, and the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Both entities are administered by the GBI's High Tech Crimes Unit.

McDonough Police Chief Preston Dorsey said he is optimistic about the possibilities afforded by the state's partnership with the FBI.

"A facility like that would definitely assist smaller departments, with regard to Internet crimes," Dorsey said. "We take quite a few reports of identity theft and other ... crimes, so this facility will be a valuable resource for us."

Hampton Police Chief Rad Porter believes the new development will have a major impact on criminal activity that "crosses state lines."

"This [facility] will help when crimes become multi-jurisdictional," he said. "The federal government has far more reach than local police departments, so it's good that all of us are working together. Communication between federal, state and local law enforcement is a great benefit."

A number of Clayton County law enforcement agencies, including the Clayton County Police Department and the Morrow Police Department, have already been working with the FBI. Officers have received training and participated in task forces like the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. However, in the past, officers traveled significant distances to receive the training.

One Morrow officer,who received training in 2006, said he had to spend a week in Seattle, taking the FBI courses. Now, with the Cyber Center Training Center in Atlanta, it will be easier to participate.

The initial cost for the center was funded with $250,000 from the FBI's Cyber Forfeiture program, which consists of money seized from investigations of past computer-related crimes.