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Financial Crime Investigators Meet in Milford

Financial crime investigators from banks and law enforcement agencies across New England gathered at The Milford National Bank and Trust Company's headquarters earlier this month to hear a presentation about a national crime information database.

The audience of about 50 people heard a presentation by Curt McKenzie of the Franklin-based New England State Police Information Network (NESPIN), a federal Department of Justice-funded service that is one of six regional parts of a national Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS) Program. This network provides a "secure means to share and distribute sensitive but non-confidential information," he explained.

For example, to help track stolen merchandise, there is a database of pawn shop transactions containing 2 million records that can be accessed by 65 different agencies in six states, McKenzie said. "That whole database came about from the idea of one Worcester detective," he added. NESPIN also loans out surveillance equipment, provides mini-grants, and conducts training for local law enforcement agencies, McKenzie said. "Basically, every bona fide law enforcement agency in New England is a member," he explained.

The Franklin-based NESPIN has 37 employees, including a dozen analysts who can help local agencies with their cases, but "it's always the detective's case. We are only there to assist," McKenzie said. Most of NESPIN's employees are former law enforcement officers. McKenzie himself was on the Springfield Police Department for 20 years, as well as serving as police chief in the towns of Monson and Granville.

"Nothing's too big or too small" to assist with, he said, noting that digital forensics plays a big part in most cases today. "The amount of crimes that are solved through the network and the information-sharing is phenomenal. It's vitally important to share information," McKenzie said.

"It's a very good service for law enforcement," said Milford Police Lieutenant James Falvey, who attended the presentation with two Milford detectives. "I think very highly of them." The local police department has used NESPIN for background checks, borrowing equipment, and checking the pawnshop database, he said.

McKenzie's presentation was part of the monthly meeting of the New England Chapter of the International Association of Financial Crime Investigators (IAFCI), a group whose membership includes retail stores, banks and law enforcement agencies. Chapter President John Sabatino of Cambridge Savings Bank said the IAFCI focuses on topics including credit card and identity theft, insurance and mortgage fraud, and financial scams.


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