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Global crime investigation lecture features Europol representatives

By Staff | Mar 8, 2019

Shepherd University Associate Professor of Sociology Robert Anthony, right, speaks with with Europol representatives Pedro Assares Rodrigues, center, and Pablo Pelaez Perez following the lecture on Feb. 27. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — In the second lecture in its monthly Criminal Justice Lecture Series, Shepherd University’s Department of Sociology and Geography invited a couple of Europol representatives to speak to students and the community on “Global Crime Investigation: Transnational Crime, Organized Crime, and Terrorism.”

The event, which was held in Erma Ora Byrd Hall on Feb. 27, explained the work of the European Union’s law enforcement agency.

“We see ourselves as mainly coordinators of high level investigations into crime,” said Chief Inspector Pablo Pelaez Perez. “We have 200 investigators in Europol — that allows us to respond quickly to whatever issue that might arise.”

While Europol remains independent from any country’s government, it does communicate and coordinate efforts with law enforcement agencies around the globe. One way Europol keeps abreast of issues around the world, is by using SIENA, the Secure Information Exchange Network Application.

“Over the last few years, we have increased our cooperation with law enforcement around the world, by 400 percent,” Perez said, mentioning this cooperation is done with a number of precautions in place, to protect all interested parties. “We have a very strict data collection regime, it prevents us from moving faster, but it’s really our best strength. We keep our people’s information safe.”

According to Pedro Assares Rodrigues, Europol helps identify contacts and facilitate the flow of information to address crimes such as money laundering, terrorism and human trafficking.

“We’re lucky enough to interact with all of the agencies within the U.S., so it’s a very wide area of work,” Rodrigues said. “The fact we have so many international liaisons within the same building is very dynamic and convenient for our business. All of these countries are uploading this information onto our database. As soon as they send us a request, as soon as its there, they can use it as their database. At Europol, we are constantly checking our information, 24 hours a day. Last year, we received 1,004,610 SIENA messages.”

Shepherdstown itself sees the benefits of Europol’s work against environmental crimes, through the organization’s work with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. According to Special Agent in Charge Keith Toomey,

“One thing with the fish and wildlife service which many people aren’t aware of, is we have an attache around the world, which is tied to terrorism,” Toomey said, mentioning he has worked with Europol on a number of occasions.

According to Shepherd University Department of Sociology and Geography Chair Chiquita Howard-Bostic, community members and students alike can look forward to future speakers with the Criminal Justice Lecture Series.

“Although this is the second event in our lecture series, we’re planning for this to continue through this spring and fall,” Howard-Bostic said, mentioning these lectures are intended to help attendees in a variety of ways. “It’s very important to build critical thinking skills within the different disciplines and career fields. And that’s what we’re trying to do here. You have to build your minds and connect with the different fields — that’s why sociology at Shepherd is the hub for criminal justice.”

To learn more about Europol, visit www.europol.europa.eu, www.facebook.com/Europol, @Europol on Twitter, Eurpol on LinkedIn, www.youtube.com/EuropolTube or @europol.eu on Instagram.