As a prosecutor who has practiced in this area for 16 years, I can confirm that adjacent localities need to do better on sharing information and collaborating on fighting crime ["Anti-Gang Strategies Lack Unity," front page, Aug. 14]. Unfortunately, forces outside of law enforcement can hinder such cooperation.
As a prosecutor in both Maryland and the District, I have seen how a lack of information sharing can hurt law enforcement -- violent criminals get released on bond, investigations are derailed and trial preparation is hampered.
We live in the information age, but prosecutors handling serious cases often have to rely on word-of-mouth assistance from their counterparts in other jurisdictions -- if their counterparts are willing to interrupt their work to help. Even then, getting information that way is like having someone do a complicated Internet search for you over the phone -- a lot gets lost in the translation.
The seriousness of this problem became clear when I was a special prosecutor in the U.S. attorney's office in the District. Maryland prosecutors wanted the U.S. attorney in the District to have access to the criminal justice information system that they were using, and the District was eager to have it. The U.S. attorney's office in the District was willing to pay for installing and maintaining a terminal in its office. All that was needed was authorization from Maryland.
It sounded simple, but it wasn't.
Dels. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George's) and Neil F. Quinter (D-Howard) sponsored a bill in 2003 that would have allowed this to occur. Passage seemed like a no-brainer: The change involved no cost to Maryland, convicting violent criminals would be beneficial to both jurisdictions and Maryland prosecutors would not be bothered anymore by requests for assistance from their D.C. counterparts.
I testified for the bill on behalf of Maryland prosecutors. Many representatives of the U.S. attorney's office in the District also spent a long day in Annapolis to support the proposal.
To our dismay, the current governor opposed the bill, saying that the situation did not need to be changed, and the bill did not pass.
As The Post's article pointed out, gangs cross jurisdictional boundaries with impunity, while law enforcement information can come to a standstill at state lines. We are well into the 21st century, and our law enforcement needs to be in this century too.
-- John Maloney
is chief of homicide prosecutions for the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office and is a former special assistant U.S. attorney in the Justice Department's organized crime and narcotics unit.