About 40 members of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL’s) Young Leaders and Professionals (YLP) group gathered in the beautiful home of Debby and Alan Stanton to hear about the FBI’s criminal investigations and outreach.
Introduced by YLP co-chairs Scott Jacobson and Jessica Mason, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Carlos Barron and Special Agent Patricia Villafranca spoke to the group about their respective divisions.
Both spoke about how closely they work with ADL to fight hatred and extremism, and about how much they value what ADL does for them.
Barron is in charge of the FBI’s criminal division, and while he said the FBI’s number one priority is counterterrorism, he gave a thorough overview of the variety of crimes his division investigates. They include violent crime, crimes against children, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, gang crimes, public corruption, and healthcare fraud, among other things. He talked about a case the FBI had solved recently involving stolen art, and said his agents had returned the stolen art to its owner. In short, his division is very busy and works 24/7 to keep us all safe. He also spent some time explaining how hate crimes are logged by the FBI, who the average perpetrator of hate crimes generally is, and why the FBI thinks it’s important to keep such statistics. What the FBI can’t keep, but ADL can, he added, is information on people who hate before they commit a crime. He noted ADL is able to track extremists and haters through open-source information, keep records of what they say and do, and provide that to law enforcement. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies cannot keep such information by law, until a crime is committed.
Villafranca is in charge of Congressional Affairs and outreach for the FBI, and that involves interacting with federal legislators, the FBI Citizens Academy, which brings average citizens to the FBI to learn about what the FBI does and acquaint them with ways the FBI can serve them. Early on in her presentation, she spoke about a training the FBI did for small law enforcement agencies with the help of ADL. That training brought in investigative researchers Mark Pitcavage and Oren Segal, and she noted it was so popular, 500 law enforcement officers attended. In addition, she mentioned the success of a presentation for Citizens Academy Alumni and law enforcement that involved former racist skinhead Frank Meeink. Villafranca said ADL collaborated with the FBI to bring Meeink to Houston.
Villafranca also puts together community programs, such as a self-defense for women class that was held at a mosque that had been under attack by neighbors. The self-defense class allowed the mosque to invite neighbors in for a positive program that would acquaint them with the facility and the people who use it in hopes it would reduce any hesitation those neighbors had in welcoming the mosque into their midst.
She explained the FBI’s outreach programs are designed mainly to prevent crimes and educate the public on how to protect themselves from crimes that could occur.
The event was put together by the YLP steering committee. Members include Leanne Baumel, Christa Ginsburg, Michael Harberg, Sarah Koller, Kevin Kushner, Rebecca Putterman, Jennifer Selber, Steve Simon, Nicole Soussan, Rebecca Weiner, Sarah Weingarden, and Allison Wilden.
For more on ADL’s YLP program, go to the Southwest Regional Web Site at http://southwest.adl.org.