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ISRI’s Law Enforcement Advisory Council Advises Members on Priorities

Eight members of ISRI’s Law Enforcement Advisory Council (LEAC) met during the Annual Convention held in New Orleans.

The eight members represented state, local and railroad police; state and county prosecutors; public utility security specialists; and crime prevention specialists. The LEAC normally advises ISRI on what information and or programs members should be providing to law enforcement in the fight against materials theft. This year, in addition to asking what ISRI should be telling law enforcement, the LEAC was asked what law enforcement has to say to ISRI. Much of the discussion that followed centered on two topics, stolen material and communications. ISRI members may debate the examples below, but it is important to remember that whether applicable or not, the LEAC represents the perceptions of law enforcement.

Stolen Material

The LEAC referred to ISRI’s Best Practices and concentration on “the basics.” Members are encouraged to remain suspicious when what appears to be new or regulated materials are being brought into yards.  For example, one Midwest utility recently lost more than $75,000 in spooled wire during the construction of a new sub-station. A utility employee was taking the wire to a recycler during the construction. This is not meant to suggest that recyclers knowingly received the stolen material, but members should ask questions even if the seller appears to have legitimate possession of materials.  

The chain of custody of evidence is critical in those theft cases that reach the prosecution stage. Photos taken by recyclers can be crucial in identifying suspects and proving possession. ISRI members are asked to make sure photos are clear and that hats or hoods do not hide the sellers’ faces. 

ISRI members are also encouraged to make full use of the ScrapTheftAlert.com (STA) system if questionable material is received. The suggestion to “remain suspicious” prompted a LEAC member to point out that STA users should remember there is a Report Suspicious Activity option. The vast majority of reports submitted to STA are in response to a theft; however, ISRI members have used the Report Suspicious Activity option when questionable materials have been brought to their yards. This option is found in the drop-down menu in the Theft Type section of the report. 

Communication

Some members of the LEAC, such as the railroad police and public utility security, have jurisdictions that cross state lines and by default cross ISRI chapter lines. For this reason, ISRI members should be prepared to fully explain why agreed upon legislation in one state does not work in another. The LEAC member representing the Union Pacific Railroad questioned why in the past ISRI members in Ohio agreed to registration fees while members in Colorado opposed similar fees. In the discussion that followed, the LEAC member understood the final versions of the Ohio and Colorado laws were part of a give and take process and that ISRI members may accept or oppose single compliance issues in lieu of others.

National Sheriffs Association

Sheriff Greg Champagne of St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, sat in on the morning session of the LEAC meeting. Sheriff Champagne is the current president of the National Sheriffs Association (NSA). His term as president will end during the annual NSA conference to be held the end of June in Reno. Sheriff Champagne advised he will ask the incoming president to appoint him as a permanent member of the LEAC, filling the seat left vacated by retired Sheriff Aaron Kennard. 

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