U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder came to Towson University on Wednesday, Oct. 3, bearing gifts for Baltimore County Police — specifically $124,000 to help the department fight intellectual property crime.
In an announcement at the Towson campus attended by County Excutive Kevin Kamenetz and Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson, Holder said the county will receive the money to enhance training and investigative efforts, part of an overall $2.4 million in grants being awarded to 13 law enforcement agencies across the country to combat counterfeiting and piracy of movies, video games, music, drugs, apparel and other products.
"These new investments — that's what they are, investments — represent an important step forward in our fight to prevent and to combat (intellectual property) crimes," Holder said.
Johnson said grant will go toward training and investigative funds for the county's economic and cyber crimes investigative unit, which was formed in 2010.
Aside from aiding the 10-person, full-time unit, the chief said the funds will also be used to educate the public on intellectual property crime.
Other jurisdictions awarded grants include agencies in Austin, Tex.; Central Point, Ore.; Cook County, Ill.; Riverside, Calif.; Sacramento County; California Department of Justice; Orlando; San Antonio; St. Louis; Los Angeles; New York; and the Virginia State Police.
"Although these awards will be utilized in a variety of ways, they will help to achieve our common goals: to advance prosecutions, as well as prevention and education activities related to IP theft," Holder said.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the Intellectual Property Enforcement Grant Program was established in 2009, with 34 law enforcement agencies sharing more than $10 million to spur a "significant increase in enforcement activities."
Since that time, past grantees have reported seizing more than $220 million in counterfeit merchandise and currency, and have arrested more than 1,400 individuals for intellectual property related crimes.
"As you can see, this grant money has been very well spent," Cole said.
Cole, who serves as the chairman of the Task Force on Intellectual Property, said that for all the benefits and excitement generated by American innovation, "our cutting edge research and products also make our companies an ideal target for intellectual property crime."
Intellectual property that is typically counterfeited or pirated, such as shoes, video games, and movies, were on display at the announcement, along with some that are more unexpected.
"All too often, we're seeing counterfeit pharmaceuticals, auto and military parts in our own markets," Cole said. "These counterfeit items endanger consumers, put our troops at risk, and undermine our national security."
On top of the efforts to fund local jurisdiction's enforcement, Holder said representatives from the Department of Justice have visited some 100 countries to educate their foreign counterparts on intellectual property enforcement.
Holder has visited China, Hong Kong and Malaysia, among other countries, to promote a global enforcement strategy.
"But as much as we've accomplished over recent years, we've also learned that the justice department can't win this fight, can't keep pace with today's (intellectual property) criminals alone," Holder said.
"Only by working together in partnership will we be able to anticipate, understand, and to overcome the new methods and new technologies being employed by those who seek to profit from the innovations of others," he said.