Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXV, No. 514 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY June 30, 1999

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: East Orange color clash; out with the old; the right to bear arts; riding into the sunset.
By their own hands: Police suicide rate climbs, and agencies seek answers.
Trouble on the line: Problem-solving gives way to finger-pointing in NYC 911 snafus.
Not-so-petty cash: Memphis tightens use of undercover drug fund.
Do-it-yourself approach: Phoenix-area police tire of delays in rape exams.
In the lurch: High-tech company folds, leaving behind a high-tech mess for Louisiana PD.
At your fingertips Microchip puts DNA evidence analysis as close as your cruiser.
Forum: Police critics need the “blue wall of silence”; hats off to the Police Corps.
Federal File: A roundup of criminal justice developments at the Federal level.
Looking askance: For some jurisdictions, racial profiling is driving the police agenda.
Upcoming Events: Professional development opportunities.

 
 Federal File

Targeting date rape

     An increasing number of rapes and sexual assaults facilitated by the drugs Rohypnol and gamma hydroxybutyrate has prompted the Justice Department to release a new training video and manual for local police and prosecutors who investigate incidents involving date rape drugs.
     The video, released in May and called “The Prosecution of Rohypnol and GHB Related Sexual Assaults,” provides strategies for law enforcement, including the methods needed to charge in such cases without a urine sample or positive toxicology result. The items were produced by the American Prosecutors Research Institute under a grant from the DoJ’s Violence Against Women Office. The project was requested by Attorney General Janet Reno after she heard accounts from survivors of drugged sexual attacks...


Alcohol & gasoline

     Despite an unprecedented 2.6 trillion miles logged by drivers on America’s highways last year, preliminary figures released in May by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that traffic fatalities caused by alcohol hit an all-time low in 1998, just as overall deaths on the nation’s highways declined slightly over the previous year.
     According to NHTSA, alcohol was involved in 15,936 deaths last year, or 38.4 percent of all fatal accidents. In 1997, it contributed to 16,189 traffic fatalities, or 38.5 percent. Last year’s figure is the lowest documented since the Government began keeping such records in 1975. Officials credit the decrease to stricter law enforcement and states’ efforts to lower the legal blood-alcohol limit to .08...


Zoned out

     Federal officials and lawmakers fear that a cutback in anti-drug flights pending the transfer of the Canal Zone to Panama will wreak havoc with the nation’s drug-interdiction tactics. Some 2,000 anti-narcotics mission have been flown per year from Howard Air Force Base in the Canal Zone, said Ana Maria Salazar, the Pentagon’s deputy assistant secretary for drug enforcement policy.
     Under a treaty agreement negotiated in 1977 by during the Carter Administration, Panama will take over the canal from the United States on Dec. 31, along with five U.S. military bases and 70,000 acres of land...


Free to talk

     The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that New York City may no longer prohibit employees from reporting the names of undocumented aliens to Federal authorities.
     The policy, which began under the administration of former Mayor Edward Koch and has been continued by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, was created because officials were concerned that undocumented immigrants would be less likely to aid in criminal investigations if they believed police would alert the Immigration and Naturalization Service to their whereabouts...


Listening post

     The number of wiretaps approved by state courts last year outpaced those sanctioned by Federal authorities, according to figures released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. State courts authorized 763 wiretaps in 1998 — a 24-percent increase over the 617 approved the prior year. Meanwhile, Federal courts have held steady over the past two years, with 566 authorized wiretaps in 1998, and 569 in 1997.
     Overall, the number of wiretaps has grown from 1,186 in 1997 to 1,329 last year. During the past decade, however, such surveillance actions rose from just 738 total wiretaps authorized — 293 permitted by Federal courts and 445 by state courts. Nearly half of the state-authorized wiretaps last year — 373 — were issued in New York, the report said, followed by New Jersey (84), Pennsylvania (68), California (52) and Florida (44)...


Going postal

     Charging that the Immigration and Naturalization Service is mistaking immigration detainees for packages, critics are assailing the agency’s plan to group illegal aliens together by nationality and ship them to jails in the Midwest and Southwest.
     Under the proposal, undocumented immigrants from Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean would be moved to facilities in Texas. Those from Europe, Africa and Asia would be sent to Chicago. The INS said it is under pressure to slash a backlog of cases and move immigrants out of detention quickly. Many are convicted criminals who already have deportation orders, it said...


Camera shy

     While police ride-alongs and public access areas are still safe ground for the nation’s news media, reporters may no longer accompany law enforcement officers on raids on people’s homes, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in May.
     The Justices were not persuaded by arguments by both the media and law enforcement that such coverage helps government efforts to fight crime, ensures accurate reporting on police activities and minimizes possible abuse of suspects...


Inching toward 100,000

     Community police hirings got a shot in the arm in May when President Clinton announced $95 million in grants to hire another 1,500 officers as part of his pledge to fund 100,000 community police officers by 2000. The President used the occasion to celebrate the drop in homicides and other violent crimes — achievements that he said are the result of the 1994 crime bill.
     Clinton has an omnibus crime package with initiatives aimed at reducing juvenile violence that he would like to see embraced by Congress. He is also pushing for a renewal of the community policing program for five years. However, his announcement did not sit well with Republicans, who claim next year’s budget has little room to renew the grants...


No room to hide

     The House Ways and Means Committee in May approved legislation that would expand the funding for the Customs Service’s pursuit of Internet predators from $2.5 million to $10 million. Under the bill, staff would also increase from 50 to 64 at the Child Pornography/Child Sexual Exploitation Program. Said Customs Commissioner Raymond Kelly: “The people who exploit children on the Internet think they can hide in cyberspace — they are wrong...