NASHVILLE - Tennessee safety officials today announced creation of a new unit to investigate identity theft and related fraud that city and county law enforcement agencies often don't have the ability to pursue.
"They'll pretty much tell you that identity crime is one of the toughest crimes for them to investigate," Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said today at a news conference with federal officials.
Gibbons said the 14-member unit is comprised of personnel from the department's three main divisions: The Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Office of Homeland Security and the Driver Services division.
The unit will work as needed on cases forwarded by local departments and will continue the department's ongoing cooperation on major cases with the U.S. Secret Service and FBI officials in Tennessee as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Gibbons said the idea for the unit arose during his department's "top to bottom" review of operations and state needs last year. Officials found "one area that very quickly came to our attention was the area of identity theft and fraud," Gibbons said.
There is a "great need" to deal more aggressively with a "growing problem," said Gibbons, who noted the task force is comprised of existing personnel.
Many local law enforcement agencies don't have the resources and manpower to handle what can be extremely complex investigations, he said.