Washington coalition attacks Internet crime

Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Washington have joined together to fight Internet crime, saying each agency alone does not have the expertise or resources to respond to Internet complaints.

"This is basically an agreement between law enforcement to cooperate on several fronts," said Assistant Attorney General Lana Martuscelli. However, the main focus will be trying to get state or federal funds for Internet law enforcement efforts and to "establish an information network amongst law enforcement officials," Martuscelli said.

The attorney general's office also announced a new World Wide Web site, Consumer and Criminal Justice Cyber Clearinghouse, which will help people avoid online fraud and crime. Consumers can log on to the site to remove their names from marketing lists, file an online complain, research consumer and criminal justice issues and get tips on how to safely surf the Internet. The site will expand to include teen consumer education lessons for teachers and training materials for law enforcement officials.

Members of Computer Law Enforcement of Washington (CLEW) signed an agreement in March, pledging to share resources and work together to:

    * Provide response to high-tech crime complaints 24 hours a day.

    * Share expertise, resources and training to help local law enforcement investigate and prosecute Internet crimes.

    * Seek an estimated $2 million for a regional computer forensics lab to help investigate and prosecute Internet crimes.

    * Suggest legislation to clarify where a crime has been committed when a criminal is in one state and the server is in another.

Martuscelli said that a speech by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno earlier this year pushed states to investigate computer and law enforcement. Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire, who announced the partnership April 27, took Reno's message as a call to arms.

CLEW will include the Washington State Attorney General's Office, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI, Washington State Patrol, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

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