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Md. attorney general warns of gangs, Internet dangers

October 26, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN ? Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler on Friday discussed two relatively new public safety initiatives within his office: tracking gang activity and teaching adults how to warn children about Internet dangers.

Speaking at a Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Gansler said his office can be a clearinghouse for local law enforcement agencies seeking information about gangs in their area.

When he was a state's attorney in Montgomery County, Md., Gansler had a gang prosecution division. He said Friday that his office was the first in Maryland to do that.

A bill passed during the last Maryland General Assembly session created a new approach to prosecuting gang-related crimes. First, though, it was watered down, angering one of its sponsors.

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Gansler said the new law is a "skeleton" on which he hopes to expand.

Gansler's presentation at the Four Points Sheraton on Dual Highway was part of the chamber of commerce's Advocacy '07 series.

Previous speakers included Gary D. Maynard, Maryland's secretary of public safety and correctional services, and U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md.

Next month's schedule includes Beverly K. Swaim-Staley, the state's deputy secretary of transportation, and Nancy S. Grasmick, the state's superintendent of schools.

Gansler, a Democrat elected last year as attorney general, said his office has a "train the trainer" program to show adults how to explain Internet safety to children.

The program is called Community Leadership in Cyber Knowledge & Safety - or C.L.I.C.K.S.

Gansler said that during a recent visit to a third-grade class, he heard of one student who was asked over the Internet to meet somewhere in person, another who was asked to provide a Social Security number and others who were "cyber-bullied," which might sound harmless to an adult, but can affect a child.

The AG's office, Gansler said, also is trying to aggressively enforce environmental crimes, namely pollution.

A cleaner Chesapeake Bay would help the tourism industry, he said.

After his speech, Gansler fielded questions on illegal immigration, his support of a stricter sex-offender law and whether the state is going after treatment plants that cause pollution.

The 66 worst treatment plans in the state are under consent orders to improve, Gansler said.

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