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(OKLAHOMA CITY) – California Attorney General Bill Lockyer tonight will be sworn in as president of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) during the association's Summer Conference in Oklahoma City. Lockyer will be the first California Attorney General to be elected NAAG president, according to records kept since 1948 by the 96-year-old organization.
Elected to his first term as California's Attorney General in 1998, Lockyer said presidency will provide him the opportunity to advocate for one of his passions: using technology to fight crime.
"The indispensable crime-fighting tool today is not a .357-magnum or other firearm," Lockyer said. "It's a 450-megahertz touch-screen notebook computer in patrol cars to provide near-instant access to criminal backgrounds, arrest warrants and, in California, photos to quickly verify the identity of suspects.
"Like advances in DNA evidence analysis and telecommunications systems that automatically notify officers when they encounter a sex offender, parolee or an individual that has an outstanding arrest warrant, these mobile computers reflect how applied technology can harness crime file data to catch criminals, protect the innocent and keep our children and communities safe," Lockyer said.
As NAAG President, Lockyer also will lead a coordinated and cooperative effort to fight federal attempts to preempt the right of states to enact laws to protect consumers, the environment and public safety. Lockyer said he will establish a NAAG task force on preemption that will serve as a resource to help attorneys general determine the best course of action to take when state and federal laws conflict.
"As Attorneys General, we have a long history of acting to protect our citizens, not only from street crime, but from predatory lending practices, unscrupulous and monopolistic business practices and from having our water, air and environment degraded," Lockyer said. "Recent, unprecedented attacks by federal agencies on states' enforcement powers endanger our ability to safeguard our citizens and our natural resources."
Through "Technology and Crime Fighting," Lockyer's NAAG presidential initiative, the Attorney General will lead efforts to maximize the use of technology in the criminal justice system throughout the nation.
Since taking office in 1999, Lockyer has championed the use of proven technology to fight crime. His efforts range from exploring the possibility of using lasers to micro-stamp firearms to better identify guns used in crimes to distributing personal identification kits parents can use to gather vital identification information, such as DNA from cheek swabs and hair samples, to help find missing children.
Prior to Lockyer's administration, California had a huge backlog of DNA samples and a system that solved an average of one case a year. Lockyer pushed for increased funding for the Department of Justice's (DOJ) 10 regional crime labs and its premier DNA Laboratory in Richmond. Five years later, the DOJ has the largest working DNA databank in the country, processing more than 200,000 DNA samples from convicted felons and matching them to old, unsolved cases at a rate of one "cold hit" a day.
"This means criminals now are paying for crimes they thought time forgot, and victims and their families are able to achieve closure," Lockyer said.
Under Lockyer's administration, the DOJ has used emerging technology to bring online a "Supervised Release File," using the statewide law enforcement telecommunications system to automatically notify officers whether an individual they've encountered is required to register as a sex offender, is on parole or probation or has outstanding arrest warrants.
As Attorney General, Lockyer created the Cal-Photo system which allows officers to plug into the telecommunications system from their patrol cars and obtain Department of Motor Vehicle and arrest photos to quickly make positive identification of suspects.
Lockyer also has improved the California sex offender registry program, the oldest in the country, by creating an enhanced web application that allows law enforcement agencies to download current Megan's Law sex offender information every 24 hours. The program also provides automatic notification to an agency when a sex offender in that jurisdiction fails to register as required by law.
In addition, Lockyer created the nation's first "Armed and Prohibited Persons" program. The program allows DOJ firearms agents to create a database to quickly identify and seize weapons from individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms because they are convicted felons, spousal abusers or have mental conditions that make them a danger to themselves or others.
NAAG was founded in 1907 to help the Attorneys General fulfill the responsibilities of their office and to assist in the delivery of high quality legal services to the states and territorial jurisdictions. NAAG fosters an environment of "cooperative leadership," helping Attorneys General respond effectively – individually and collectively – to emerging state and federal issues.