Unarmed Police and Prosecutors

Vic Reichman, Colorado Attorney General's Office

Punishment of financial and economic crimes is vital, both to the prosperity of the United Sates and to people's faith in the criminal justice system. While crimes of violence and routine property crimes will always be with us, the criminal justice system is not equipped to address the dramatic increases in crimes perpetrated with a computer and/or on the internet. Too few departments even know of the legal requirements for obtaining a search warrant for a computer, and even fewer have personnel with expertise to capture the data south. Most prosecutors lack the training and experience to provide guidance to their law enforcers. The debate over the proper "venue" for a computer-based crime must be addressed. The ease with which computers cross jurisdictional boundaries means law enforcement agencies, proud of their independence, must learn to "play well with others." When more than a hundred bank accounts are finally obtained, who has the time and expertise to find the "smoking gun" buried within them? When a dispatcher receives a call about identity theft, does he/she even recognize the nature of the call and know how to aid the victim and properly forward the call? These issues must be addressed as the criminal justice system ventures into the new millennium, and the prevalence of one particular type of crime may be the impetus for change in training and focus.

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Updated 05/20/2006