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U.S., Canada to Share Forensics Data

November 16, 2006

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) _ U.S. and Canadian law enforcement officials agreed Thursday to begin sharing forensics data from crimes scenes in both countries.

A memorandum of understanding signed by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Canadian Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day marks the first in which the United States has agreed to immediate sharing of crime-scene information with a foreign government.

``And while terrorism is a primary concern for all of us, it is not our only job,″ Gonzales said. ``Criminals are constantly searching for new ways to prey upon our communities. To stop them, we must maintain the same vigilance we show against terrorists.″

Before Thursday’s action, the two countries exchanged only a limited amount of ballistics information.

Under the agreement, each country will be able to view real-time forensics data, allowing bullets and firearms to be linked across crime scenes in both countries, said Michael Sullivan, acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Canada has strict laws governing handgun sales, with the result that the majority of handguns used to commit crimes in Canada are purchased in the United States, Sullivan said.

The signing took place as part of the ninth annual United States-Canada Cross-Border Crime Forum, which is held at the historic Biltmore Estate in western North Carolina. The two-day meeting brought together hundreds of law-enforcement officers from the two countries.

Also present for the signing was U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who praised the agreement as an opportunity to stop crime at the border and improve systems that attempt to keep potential terrorists from entering both countries.

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