Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXV, No. 513 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY June 15, 1999

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Constantine heads home; a ton of devotion; migrating Moose; riding for a cause; Atlanta hot seat; DiIulio heads home.
It’s in there somewhere: Can police find evidence in a computer hard drive?
Back to school: New Haven sergeants learn problem-solving & leadership.
Case dismissed: Racial profiling furor in NJ leads to dropping of charges.
Who’s next? If you want to investigate the beleaguered NYPD, you’ll have to wait your turn.
Long time coming: After six years, a civil rights commission offers a harsh report on LA’s police & sheriff’s departments.
City life: Can an offer of low-interest mortgages induce NYC cops to live in the city?
Forum: In a lively roundtable discussion, three prominent academicians ponder how far CJ research has come in the past 10 years.
Upcoming Events: Professional development opportunities.

 
Another study of police practices?
Police execs find a lot to dislike in pending legislation

     The nation’s police organizations are concerned about the efficacy and ramifications of a bipartisan Congressional bill introduced in May which, if passed, would create a commission to study a wide range of law enforcement practices and policies in the wake of the Amadou Diallo shooting and other incidents of alleged police brutality.
     The bill, H.R. 1659, is sponsored by Representative Jose E. Serrano, a New York Democrat who represents the Bronx district where Diallo was shot by New York City police officers on Feb. 4, and Representative Henry J. Hyde (R.-Ill.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. It would establish a five-member panel to examine issues such as community relations, arrest procedures, handcuffing and verbal communications, as well as recruitment and hiring practices, the handling of civilian complaints and the police “code of silence.” Grants totaling $3 million would be provided to the cities to enhance training, recruitment and other functions...


After Littleton massacre, reappraisal of SWAT tactics brings changes

     In the aftermath of the Columbine High School massacre in April, much of the focus has been shifted to what, if anything, the SWAT teams that rushed to the scene from the municipalities and counties surrounding Littleton, Colo., could have done to bring the incident to a close sooner and perhaps save the lives of at least some of the 15 victims of teen-age gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
     While a number of police departments have shied away from armchair-quarterbacking the response of special weapons and tactics units from the cities of Denver, Lakewood and Littleton, and from Arapahoe and Jefferson counties, there has been criticism leveled at Colorado agencies from some quarters that their tactics were not dynamic enough, given the situation. Some SWAT members have speculated that Klebold and Harris could have been dead for up to two hours after the school was shown under siege on television...


NIJ to test a new Compass for steering crime-fighting strategies

     Officials at the National Institute of Justice are hoping to bring the Compstat program, a vaunted way for police agencies to develop crime-fighting strategies through the use of computer mapping and increased command accountability, to a higher level with an initiative that is expected to give police and other municipal agencies instant access to all manner of community-related data for a fuller assessment of a neighborhood’s health and safety.
     Under the new program, called Compass (for Computer Mapping, Planning and Analysis of Safety Strategies), data from a wide variety of sources will be made available to a collaborative group of local policy makers and others, including police departments, city officials, prosecutors, social service agencies and research institutions, according to NIJ. This consortium will then have a foundation for crafting increasingly multi-faceted solutions for particular crime problems...


The mysteries of cybercrime:

Finding needles in a computer haystack

     Obtaining the identity of an anonymous person posting on the Web or accessing the deleted files on a suspect’s computer hard drive is not a difficult task for those who know how. Unfortunately, experts on white-collar crime say, too few law enforcement agencies have that kind of expertise and the lack of knowledge is having repercussions at the Federal, state and local levels.
     According to Dick Johnston, director of the National White Collar Crime Center in Richmond, Va., the nation’s law enforcement community is woefully behind in learning the skills necessary to fighting computer crime and collecting and preserving electronic evidence...


Back to school in New Haven
New sergeants learn problem-solving & leadership skills

     The New Haven, Conn., Police Department is giving its new supervisors some additional help making the transition from officer to sergeant, in the form of training sessions held jointly with the University of New Haven that focus on problem solving and leadership skills in a community-oriented policing structure.
     Bill Norton, chairman of the university’s criminal justice department, said newly promoted officers who complete the three-day course receive the fundamentals of supervisory training. The program is part of a broader project funded by a $165,393 grant from the Justice Department’s Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services that will also help the Police Department to reevaluate its mission over the next five years, Norton told Law Enforcement News...


NJ profiling uproar prompts dismissal of drug, gun cases

     New Jersey prosecutors have dropped drug and weapons charges against 21 motorists stopped and searched last year by two State Police troopers who pleaded not guilty in May to accusations that they had lied about the race of drivers they stopped in an attempt to cover up the practice of racial profiling.
     Troopers James Kenna and John Hogan were arraigned on May 27 on charges of falsifying records and official misconduct. Their plea came just one day after prosecutors in Middlesex Country moved to drop charges in those cases where the troopers would have been key witnesses...

Investigating the NYPD? Wait your turn.
As Louima beating case concludes, another agency probes beleaguered police force

     The United States Commission on Civil Rights in May became the latest in a line of Federal and state entities to launch an investigation into the practices of the New York City Police Department in the wake of the Amadou Diallo shooting and longstanding complaints by members of the city’s minority community that their civil rights are largely ignored by the predominantly white police force.
     While the eight-member panel that convened on May 26 seemed puzzled by the stark disparity in accounts of police behavior after listening to hours of testimony from citizens, community leaders, and city officials, it should have come as no surprise given the antipathy that has grown between both sides in the wake of the Diallo shooting...


Taking some of the shine from Tinsel Town:

Outside monitors urged for LAPD, sheriff

     Finding little public trust in the ability of either Los Angeles law enforcement agencies to discipline themselves or of the county district attorney’s office to prosecute police misconduct, the United States Commission on Civil Rights has concluded its long-running investigation into bias and racial tension between the police and sheriff’s departments and the communities they serve, recommending that a civilian review panel be created to examine complaints against county deputies and an independent prosecutor be established to pursue allegations of abuse against local law enforcement officers.
     The recommendations were part of a 233-page report released in May, culminating a six-year investigation by the bipartisan commission. They were based in part on hearings conducted in Los Angeles in 1996 as a follow-up on Los Angeles law enforcement in the wake of Det. Mark Furhman’s testimony during the O.J. Simpson trial and the videotaped beating of two suspected illegal aliens by Riverside County sheriff’s deputies...


NYC tries again to sway cops into living in the city

     Under a plan designed to make city-living more attractive to New York’s police officers who might otherwise choose to move to the suburbs, City Council leaders in May proposed offering them low-interest mortgages to purchase homes closer to the neighborhoods where they patrol.
     The idea, part of a package of “sweeping responses” that have come in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Amadou Diallo in February, would carry an estimated $8.2-million price tag. The proposal would lower interest rates on mortgages by two points, saving the owner of a $150,000 residence more than $60,000 over 30 years...