Sheriff: ‘Cutting Edge Training’ to Recognize Fraudulent IDs
The startling discovery that many illegal immigrants are listing places like laundromats and corner stores to obtain fraudulent Massachusetts identification is sparking some new training among local law enforcement.
The Bristol County Sheriff's Department is undergoing a course that will help them better recognize when people are using such addresses to obtain identification illegally.
"We always try to stay on the cutting edge, and this is one more tool for us," Sheriff Thomas Hodgson told WBSM News.
Saugus Police Officer James Scott has been the person leading the charge across Massachusetts to train law enforcement how to recognize fraudulently obtained state identification. He says places like laundromats, corner stores and places with mailbox rentals--known as "address dumps"--are being listed as residential addresses, and often, many different illegal immigrants will use the same addresses on their identifications.
Representative Shaunna O'Connell (R-Taunton) helped Sheriff Hodgson get in touch with Officer Scott, and now the Bristol County Sheriff's Department will take his course "Identifying the Imposter" on November 16.
"My obligation as a sheriff is to do everything we can to maximize our ability to keep people safe," Hodgson said. "This is a no-brainer. If we can be more effective at keeping people off the street that otherwise may go in and victimize a citizen who is a legal resident of our community, shame on me for not taking advantage of it."
Hodgson said identity theft isn't only affecting the person whose identity is stolen; it also makes the job harder for law enforcement, and it's giving criminals an edge they shouldn't have.
"The cartels have gone into the business, pretty heavily, of creating fraudulent identifications for profit," Hodgson said. "The problem is, we have people that are entering the country illegally using these fraudulent IDs, accessing benefits and other things that they otherwise aren't entitled to."
The sheriff said it's not just the cartels that create these fraudulent IDs; he said about 10 to 15 years ago, there was an individual in Worcester that was producing them for illegal immigrants.
"It's a big business, and it's something we really need to get our hands on for the protection of the people," he said.
Although there will be some new methodologies involved in recognizing these "address dumps" when dealing with criminals, Hodgson feels his department already has the skills to do it, they just need to be trained in what to look for.
"In some respects, it'll be a new process. We'll look at how we can access and utilize our database, and this can also be done through the (Registry of Motor Vehicles) database, and really quickly," Hodgson said. "We can identify a lot of people who have fraudulent IDs, and it can be done in a variety of ways--as long as it isn't profiling. We'll be looking at all of that."
And the new training won't cost the taxpayers a dime.
"It's free training. In fact, we're opening it up to some local departments as well," Hodgson said. He noted that they are still trying to figure out the class size from his own department, before they can extend the invitation to others. "Once our numbers are clear, then New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, the major cities (will be invited), and as many others as we can possibly get into the class."
Hodgson said they may also host another class at a later date for departments that don't make it into this session.
"It's just one more tool to have in our toolbox, to help us more readily identify people that are involved in this fraudulent initiative and get them off the streets, and protect the citizens of our communities," Hodgson said.