Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (April 18, 2006) – Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. and Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick enlisted future generations in their ongoing fight against environmental crimes today when they visited Frederick County middle school students. Maryland’s top officials in law enforcement and the environment continue their battle against environmental crime by teaching a class of students at Walkersville Middle School about the importance of reporting environmental crimes.

Attorney General Curran and Secretary Philbrick held an outdoor class with science students from the school at a mock environmental crime scene staged by members of MDE’s Emergency Response Division. Students worked in groups to “process the scene” and look for clues that helped them try to “solve” the crime while learning how criminal investigators and emergency responders work together to fight environmental crimes.

“Teaching kids about environmental crime, and how they can help protect their communities keeps the kids safe and encourages prompt reporting,” said Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. “As part of National Environmental Crimes Awareness Week, we also want to get the message out to the public that these crimes are felonies and carry significant jail terms.”

The sixth and seventh graders have been preparing for the special class, which lasted slightly longer than an hour, by studying and researching environmental issues.

“By participating in this exercise we are hoping these young people will develop an environmental ethic,” said Environment Secretary Philbrick. “We’re fostering a belief that crimes and activities that harm our natural world are just as reportable and significant as crimes against individuals. Perhaps even more so and there are easy steps that each of us can take to make a positive difference in that effort.”

The “scene” is designed to represent a typical hazardous waste dumping site that criminal investigators and emergency responders regularly handle. Secretary Philbrick and the Attorney General lead the session and then spoke with the students about types of environmental crimes and what damage they cause to communities and the environment.

This is the eighth outreach event continuing the collaboration between the Maryland Attorney General’s Office and the Maryland Department of the Environment in the fight against environmental crime. These sessions are timed to bring attention to National Environmental Education Week and National Environmental Crimes Awareness Week, both of which are April 16-22 this year.

National Environmental Education Week is the single largest organized environmental education event in U.S. history. It will increase the educational impact of Earth Day (April 22) by creating a full week of educational preparation, learning, and activities in K-12 classrooms, nature centers, zoos, museums, and aquariums.

National Environmental Crimes Week is held each year to remind the public about the serious threat to our environment from environmental criminal activity; increase their awareness of the signs of environmental criminal activity and encourage the prompt reporting of environmental crimes to the proper authorities.

To report suspected environmental crimes, call the Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Unit at 410/537-3333, your local police or MDE’s 24-hour hotline toll free in Maryland at (866) MDE-GOTO.