In cold blood
Instead of preparing for a swearing-in ceremony in Decatur, Ga., for Derwin Brown in December, municipal and county officials groped for answers as to why someone would assassinate DeKalb County’s sheriff-elect.
Brown, 46, was a 22-year veteran of the agency with a reputation for honesty and dedication. He was gunned down in front of his home on Dec. 15 while returning from a private reception to celebrate his completion of officer training. He was ambushed and shot several times with multiple large-caliber weapons.
“Assassination is an appropriate label for what happened,” said Mildred Jones, a spokeswoman for the DeKalb County public safety department.
A $45,000 reward has been posted and the FBI has been called in to help local authorities solve the case.
Brown had won a contentious race against incumbent Sidney Dorsey, a former Atlanta homicide detective. He had vowed to reform the department and many believed him capable of turning around an agency that had been mired in political infighting and patronage.
During a runoff in August, allegations surfaced that Dorsey had used deputies for his private security business on county time. He was also alleged to have used jail inmates to rehabilitate homes belonging to supporters of his wife, Atlanta City Councilwoman Sherry Dorsey.
Two weeks before his scheduled swearing-in, Brown had already told 38 employees that they should be looking for new jobs. He also called for an ongoing investigation of the agency after his election.
“For 30 years, the sheriff’s department has been troubled,” said DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger, who was to have sworn him in on Dec. 18. “He represented the best hope for restoring respect to the sheriff’s department that we’ve ever had.”
When Gen. Barry McCaffrey steps down on Jan. 6 after managing the war on drugs for nearly five years, he will be taking with him a greater understanding of how the nation’s drug problem affects every segment of society.
McCaffrey, who announced his resignation as White House drug czar in October, said at that time that he wanted whichever candidate became president to have a clean slate to form his own policies on drug abuse. Since his appointment by President Clinton in 1996, McCaffrey, 57, has presided over an office whose budget has grown from $35 million to $500 million. During those years, funding for treatment alone increased by 35 percent, to more than $3 billion, with money for prevention and education expanding by 52 percent.
In 1999, McCaffrey called the incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders a “failed social policy” and asked for a “historic shift” that would integrate drug treatment into the criminal justice system.
“I think I’m far more confident than I was before,” McCaffrey told The Washington Post. “I understand this is not a city problem. Poor people, black people, brown people — it’s a problem that affects every part of our society,” he said. “The second thing I understand is there are a lot of people who know what they’re talking about.”
McCaffrey, who previously directed drug interdiction from Panama as head of the U.S. Army’s Southern Command, said he plans to write a book about those people, from scientists to drug addicts, whom he considers heroes in the drug war. He is also considering returning to his alma mater, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, to teach a course on national security.
As director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, McCaffrey has been praised by federal law-enforcement authorities for his stewardship of the agency. Often outspoken when he disagreed with government policies, he urged Clinton to spend more than $1 billion on aid to three Andean nations, with more than half of that going to Colombia, a country he called “a flipping nightmare.”
It only took two years before Gil Kerlikowske, deputy director of the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, realized he missed being “where the rubber hits the road” — local law enforcement. So he returned to his real love in August, assuming command of the Seattle Police Department.
Kerlikowske, 50, had joined the federal agency after nearly five years as police commissioner in Buffalo, N.Y., a difficult environment that left him “fairly tired,” he told Law Enforcement News. He took the position with the COPS office assuming he would retire from there.
“COPS is a good program and it’s done a lot and I’ve had a great opportunity to be part of it. But I think you really feel most fulfilled at the local level,” said Kerlikowske.
High on his agenda for the Seattle department, he said, was improving the agency’s morale in the wake of the World Trade Organization riots in December 1999. Assessments would also have to be conducted of recommendations made by several studies of the incident, with city and department officials considering which ones to suggest for implementation.
Kerlikowske also told LEN that he would be examining the less-than-lethal force options for the department. On April 12, police shot and killed David Walker, a 40-year-old black man who had begun shooting at employees at a Safeway supermarket after stealing a container of orange juice.
A 28-year law enforcement veteran, Kerlikowske began his career with the St. Petersburg, Fla., Police Department. He served as chief of police in two Florida cities, Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce, before taking command in Buffalo in 1994.
Morale took an upswing at the Memphis Police Department in July when Mayor Willie Herenton tapped acting Police Director Walter Crews to assume the post permanently.
Crews beat out a field of formidable finalists, including Sonya Proctor, a former interim police chief in Washington, D.C., Joseph J. Santiago, the police director of Newark, N.J., and Gil Kerlikowske, the former Buffalo, N.Y., police commissioner, who assumed command of the Seattle Police Department in August.
Crews, who joined the Memphis department in 1969, is credited with establishing the agency’s vaunted Crisis Intervention Team, a nationally recognized model for handling calls involving emotionally disturbed individuals. He is, said Herenton, an “insider who is an outsider.”
Although the mayor described himself as “emphatic” about wanting to change the culture of the department — something he believed an outsider would be better able to effect — Crews’s commitment to turning the agency around changed his mind. “He held his own regarding his background, training and vision,” Herenton told The Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Within a week after being named on July 13, Crews shook up the agency by terminating the appointments of Deputy Director David Dugger, deputy chiefs Brenda Jones and Sam Moses, and Richard McBryde, the executive commander of police administration. Only two members of the command staff survived the house cleaning: Deputy Chief Robert Wright, who oversees all detective divisions, and Deputy Chief Michael Dodd, the patrol commander for the West, Central, Downtown and Northeast precincts.
James Bolden, a precinct commander whose position was eliminated in a 1997 reorganization, was brought back as Crews’s second-in-command. Bolden, 52, has served in the homicide and robbery bureaus, headed internal affairs and ran the training academy during a 32-year career.
“Quite frankly, I’ve seen a morale surge in the Memphis Police Department over the past few days, in great part, I think, because we’ve been able to promote, and in great part because of a new leadership team,” Crews told LEN. “We’re enthusiastic about it from the top, and it kind of trickles down.”
Baca and forth
Citing the declining health of his parents in New Mexico, Lakeland, Fla., Police Chief Sam Baca said in July that he would be stepping down from the post he has held for the past 10 years.
Baca, 51, had been chosen in April 1990 to succeed retiring chief Ron Nenner. During his tenure he brought community policing to the agency, assigning some officers to housing projects and taking a more serious approach to domestic violence cases. Part of the department’s policy manual was rewritten to win accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
But Baca also stirred controversy, as he did in Albuquerque where he served as chief of his hometown department for five years beginning in 1985. In Lakeland, where more than half of the officers lived outside the city limits, he billed as a crime-fighting measure a plan allowing them to drive their patrol vehicles home.
Discontent among the rank-and-file there also rose amid charges of favoritism in promotions, transfers and job assignments. Still, officers soundly rejected a unionization proposal in 1991 by a vote of 127-40, and again in 1999 by a vote of 111-87.
In Albuquerque, where Baca began his career as a patrol officer in 1970, an audit of the agency in 1987 showed that as chief, he had ordered investigations of prominent citizens, including the publisher of the city’s morning newspaper. Although he denied issuing the order, Baca corrected that problem and others within the 120 days he was given to do so.
His resignation from the Lakeland force, he said, is in no way connected to an incident involving his boss, City Manager Gene Strickland. In February, Baca gave Strickland a ride home after the official was stopped for having expired license tags. Baca had been called to the scene by a subordinate who had determined that while not drunk, Strickland had been drinking. He took only one portion of the drunken driving test.
Baca acknowledged giving Strickland a lift just weeks before announcing his departure. The incident, said Mayor Buddy Fletcher, “has been an embarrassment to a number of us involving in this, our city. I know the chief and Gene, and I’m sure…something like this will never happen again.”
In his resignation letter to Strickland, Baca said he would stay until the selection of a new chief is made, unless his parents’ health deteriorates further.
Taking his oath before a group of dignitaries that included at least one who had served on the bench with his distinguished father, John Marshall, the son of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, was sworn in on Feb. 1 as the nation’s first African American director of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Marshall, 41, joked that he would be giving up the title of “Marshal Marshall,” or even better, “M-squared.” He succeeded Eduardo Gonzalez, a former Tampa police chief who stepped down in 1999 to be closer to his family in Miami.
Beginning his career as a Virginia state trooper, Marshall later became a special agent for the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Senator Charles Robb, (D.-Va.), noted that he had received one of the last letters written by Justice Marshall, who died in 1993, asking that his son be recommended for appointment as U.S. Marshal at the federal courthouse in Alexandria. Marshall was named to that post in 1994.
Marshall said among his first priorities would be dispelling the notion that the agency is an old-boy network where minorities find career advancement difficult. He touted the role that the Marshals Service had played in desegregating public schools by escorting black children to class, and pointed out that his swearing-in was being held on the first day of Black History Month.
Present at the ceremony were Justice John Paul Stevens, whose term overlapped with that of the elder Marshall’s, as well as Justice David Souter and Attorney General Janet Reno. “I know he hears me when I say, ‘Thanks Dad, I miss you and I love you,’” said Marshall.
Over and out
Former Hampton, Va., Police Chief Pat G. Minetti may still have much to offer the city he served for 45 years — it just won’t be as its mayor.
Announcing he would enter the May 2 mayoral race just weeks after his retirement in January, Minetti was beaten by City Council member Mamie Locke, who won 48 percent of the vote to become Hampton’s first African-American mayor.
Minetti, 67, was appointed chief in 1972 and held that post for 28 years. During his long tenure, there are few if any programs within the agency that he did not initiate, including Neighborhood Watch and a wide range of school programs such as Officer Friendly, which was the first of its kind in the nation when the Hampton Police Department adopted it more than 20 years ago.
“In fact,” Minetti told Law Enforcement News, “they’re still using that kit in school.” Such programs have been expanded and now cover the city’s middle and high schools. During the 1980s, Minetti established two-person anti-crime details and brought drug-sniffing dogs into the schools. “I would like to think that’s one of the main reasons we kept the drugs out of the high schools,” he said.
What Minetti has found most gratifying about these programs, he said, is their collaborative nature. “I think we have nationally renowned school programs, and in the community we have our community-oriented policing, our crime watch, and all these things have made a positive impact on our citizenry,” he said.
Too smart? Too bad.
Sometimes, so the saying goes, it’s better to be lucky than smart. Robert Jordan is apparently more than smart enough to become a police officer; what he doesn’t have is luck, at least in the courts.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ruled in October that the New London, Conn., Police Department did not discriminate against Jordan when it deemed him too intelligent to join the agency.
Jordan, who took a pre-employment IQ test in 1996, scored significantly higher than other test-takers. His score, 33, was the same as would be expected of a chemist, electrical engineer, administrator or computer programmer. New London officials only interviewed candidates who scored in the 20- to 27-point range. Scores within that range would indicate an IQ of 104, or what would be expected of a general officer worker, bank teller or salesperson.
The appellate court, in upholding the ruling of a Federal judge, concluded that the same standards were applied by New London officials to everyone who took the test. Jordan, the court stated, had not been the victim of discrimination because of his high mark on the exam.
History was made last summer with the appointment of Lieut. Col. Terry Landry as the first black superintendent of the Louisiana State Police.
A 22-year veteran who served as deputy superintendent for more than a year prior to his promotion, Landry replaced Col. W.R. “Rut” Whittington.
Frustrated by recent budget cuts, Whittington abruptly resigned after more than four years at the helm. Although he had previously asserted that he would stay on “as long as they want me to be here,” he did an about-face just five days after a meeting with Gov. Mike Foster in July, saying it would be in the best interests of the department if “someone else was in command during the current downsizing.”
The appointment of Landry, who previously worked in the agency’s crime laboratory, gaming enforcement division and criminal investigation bureau, was viewed by observers as a wise move both politically and professionally.
“This appointment is most appropriate and timely and will go down in history as one of the most significant appointments of an African American by any governor of Louisiana,” said State Senator Cleo Fields, a Democrat from Baton Rouge who chairs The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus.
End of an earful
Gerald Arenberg, the colorful and often controversial executive director of the National Association of Chiefs of Police (NACOP), died on Nov. 16 at the age of 70 after a two-year struggle with cancer.
Arenberg began his career as a deputy sheriff in Cook County, Ill., and later served as chief of police in the Chicago suburb of Golf. In 1978, he organized and became the director of the NACOP. Through that organization and the earlier American Federation of Police that he had helped found in 1966, Arenberg became a frequent spokesman for police needs and policies, campaigning to have all officers outfitted with bulletproof vests. He also realized a life-long goal of establishing the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum.
The museum, an earlier version of which was built in 1960, moved in 1990 from southwestern Florida to a former FBI building in Miami. It serves as a memorial to officers slain in the line of duty.
Arenberg came up with the concept after nearly being killed by a drunken driver while directing traffic in 1955, recalled Jim Gordon, a friend and executive editor of publications for the hall of fame.
“He was in the hospital for months,” he told The Associated Press. “When he did pull through, he felt there was a reason for that. That reason became his dream to honor and remember officers who gave the ultimate sacrifice — their lives.”
Candidates for police chief do not come any more highly recommended than did Ralph Mendoza, who was hand-picked by Fort Worth, Texas, Chief Thomas Windham to run the department on an interim basis in the months before Windham’s death.
The imprimatur of Windham, the city’s top cop for 15 years, whom many still consider irreplaceable, was apparently enough for municipal officials to forgo a national search last year and swear in Mendoza on Feb. 1.
Mendoza had assumed command of the 1,200-member department as acting chief after Windham went on medical leave in August 1999 for treatment of a malignant tumor. One month later, Mendoza was thrust into the national spotlight when a gunman opened fire at the Wedgwood Baptist Church, killing seven people and leaving many more wounded. It was Mendoza’s professionalism during this episode that many believe sold city officials on making his appointment permanent.
“[Mendoza] not only impressed me, but he impressed the entire world for his ability to handle probably the worst situation any police chief or city could be in,” said Becky Haskin, a City Council member.
Promoted to second-in-command in 1997, Mendoza was the city’s first Hispanic deputy chief and is now the first minority-group member to lead the agency. He will not try to emulate a chief who was an icon, he said. “You will never meet or exceed the expectations people have of you,” Mendoza said in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Windham died on Jan. 12 at the age of 61 after a six-month battle with cancer. A former Los Angles police official, he was among the longest-serving chiefs of any major city and was described as John Wayne and Gary Cooper rolled into one. Windham was so tough, said City Councilman Jim Lane, that he was like the “oldest pair of cowboy boots that the oldest cowboy in the United States is wearing.”
Between 1986, the year Windham was hired, and 1998, Fort Worth’s murder rate dropped from 202 to 67. Major crimes fell from a peak of 77,595 in 1991 to 35,492 in 1998. He championed programs including Code: Blue and Weed and Seed. Windham was particularly revered by the city’s African American community.
“Whenever things got rough in this city, Chief Thomas Ray Windham never asked us to come to his office. He would always come to where we were in our community,” said The Rev. W.G. Daniels, a founding member of Ministers Against Crime.
The doctor is out
Having fulfilled the commitment he had made to Connecticut’s governor, renowned forensic scientist Henry C. Lee said in April that he would be leaving the post of public safety commissioner after just two years.
“I have finished the projects I promised the governor I would get done, and now it is time for me to step back,” he announced. Lee also said he would giving up his post of 15 years as director of the state police lab in Meriden.
A native of Taiwan, where he was a police captain, the 61-year-old Lee attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice on a scholarship after emigrating to the United States. In 1975 he earned a doctorate in biochemistry from New York University, working his way through college by teaching kung fu.
In 1986, he garnered worldwide attention when he proved with three-quarters of an ounce of human remains that Helle Crafts, a flight attendant, had been killed and fed into a wood chipper by her husband, an airline pilot. It was the first murder case in the state to be won without a corpse.
Lee also helped free murder defendant O.J. Simpson when he testified that his analysis of the bloody sock found that the blood had been rubbed in, not splattered, lending credence to the theory that the evidence had been planted by police.
Considered a skilled expert witness, Lee donates his $100,000 fee to charity, believing that he is testifying for the forensic facts, not the prosecution or the defense.
Lee had declined the position of public safety commissioner at least twice before accepting it in 1998 at the request of Gov. John Rowland, after the state had just lost its third commissioner in four years. Dean Pagani, a spokesman for Rowland, pointed out that the governor had convinced Lee twice before to stay on longer than he wanted to, “and he realizes that Dr. Lee feels now it’s time for him to step down.”
The agency will now be in the hands of Arthur Spada, a Connecticut Superior Court judge who stepped down from the bench in May to take the public-safety post.
Spada, 68, had led the grand jury investigation of police corruption in Hartford. As public safety commissioner, he plans to reduce lawlessness and accidents on the state’s highways and roads, he said. Spada will also oversee completion of a new police communication system to replace a 60-year-old network that has been plagued by dead spots in some parts of the state.
After a 4½-year term during which phenomenal success in rolling back crime was offset by incidents of shocking police brutality and tactics that some argued were excessively intrusive, New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir announced his resignation on Aug. 8 to become a consultant with an Atlanta-based corporate investigations firm.
Safir, 58, will join ChoicePoint, one of the nation’s largest pre-employment screening firms, with 4,000 employees in 22 cities. The position, he said, will give him the opportunity to continue advocating the increased use of forensic DNA testing in law enforcement.
While Safir was given a standing ovation from six rows of senior police officials in the ceremonial chamber of City Hall at the end of his remarks, critics offered a starkly different interpretation of Safir’s record at news conferences of their own.
According to City Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone, the commissioner concentrated too heavily on numbers and not enough on the communities that would be affected by some of his policies. “There was an overemphasis on statistics,” Vallone told The New York Times. “The next commissioner should be concerned about numbers and about people.”
Safir was named the city’s fire commissioner in 1994 by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani after 26 years in federal law enforcement. In 1996, he replaced William Bratton as police commissioner. Although the city’s crime began its sharp decline during Bratton’s tenure, it continued after Safir took the helm. Between 1998 and 1999, a 7.8-percent drop in major crimes was recorded citywide. Homicides hit an all-time low of 671 last year.
Despite those achievements, Safir’s legacy also includes such incidents as the station house torture of Abner Louima in 1997 and the fatal shooting in 1998 of Amadou Diallo. Safir was also criticized for releasing the sealed juvenile records of Patrick Dorismond, an unarmed security guard who was shot and killed in March during a confrontation with plainclothes officers who had tried to initiate a reverse drug sting.
Safir had announced in May that he was suffering from prostate cancer, but said his decision to resign was not related to his illness.
Replacing the commissioner lauded by Giuliani as the “greatest” in city history was Bernard B. Kerik, commissioner of the city’s Department of Corrections. Kerik, 44, was selected from a pool of three finalists, including Chief of Department Joseph P. Dunne, the city’s top uniformed officer.
Kerik is known for reshaping the trouble-plagued Corrections Department with a data-driven approach that uses statistical yardsticks to measure the performance of employees in 130 different categories. He met the mayor when Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, made his first run for office in 1989. Kerik, a former narcotics officer, coordinated Giuliani’s security detail during the second and successful campaign in 1993. He was appointed first deputy commissioner of correction at that time.
Critics complained that Kerik does not have a college degree, something the agency requires of its superior officers. He was also not backed by Safir. Many in both the department and the community had hoped Giuliani would choose Dunne, a 31-year veteran who has since been moved into the first deputy commissioner’s spot vacated by Patrick Kelleher, who retired in August to become head of worldwide security at Merrill Lynch.
Fallout over Miami
It began in November 1999 with a 6-year-old Cuban refugee named Elian Gonzalez and it ended in May with the replacement of Miami City Manager Donald Warshaw and Police Chief William O’Brien.
The shakeup at City Hall in 2000 followed the April 22 pre-dawn raid by federal agents that removed the boy from the home of his Miami relatives and returned him to his father. In the aftermath, Mayor Joe Carollo ordered Warshaw to fire O’Brien, who had failed to inform the mayor about the pending federal action. Warshaw refused and was dismissed. O’Brien subsequently quit, citing Carollo as a divisive force in the city.
But the real-life Miami soap opera did not end there. A Miami-Dade Circuit Court granted a temporary restraining order on May 3 preventing Carollo from dismissing Warshaw. It gave the city manager 10 days to prove he was being fired for refusing to break city and state laws.
According to court documents, Warshaw sent a two-page letter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, alleging that Carollo had ordered the city’s police department to investigate journalists, Spanish-language radio hosts and supporters of political opponents. Circuit Judge Steve Levine, however, found insufficient evidence to support claims that the mayor had violated the city’s charter.
When the clock ran out on the temporary injunction, Warshaw was replaced by Carlos Gimenez, the city’s fire chief, who was sworn in on May 9.
As his last act as city manager, Warshaw appointed Raul Martinez as police chief. The 24-year law enforcement veteran, who had been serving as assistant city manager, became the first Hispanic to lead the department.
His selection was not approved by Carollo, who one day after Martinez’s swearing in on May 1 called it an example of the “immoral, unethical actions” taken by Warshaw on his way out.
It takes all types
Heroism comes in many forms — making a rescue in near zero temperatures, continuing to fire after being pierced by bullets and shrapnel, surviving a shootout with a murderer — and at least 10 such heroes were honored this year by the National Association of Police Organizations, which presented its TOP COP awards during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 5.
One recipient, Scott D. Quist of the Alaska Department of Public Safety’s fish and wildlife division, made one final pass in a small plane despite fading light and increasingly bad weather in an attempt to find two men reported missing in the wilderness. When he reached them, he found the older of the two, age 70, near death from hypothermia. The younger, 32, was suffering from cold as well. It took two trips in low visibility and snow to transport them to safety. Doctors told Quist that the 70-year-old’s body temperature had dropped to 86 degrees. Had he not been rescued, they said, he would not have last more than a few hours.
In Los Angeles, TOP COP winner Officer Cynthia French was ambushed after responding to a “man with a gun” call in Studio City on New Year’s Eve 1998. Although the gunman opened fire on French as soon as she arrived, she continued to keep firing until her firearm was blown from her hand. By the end of the standoff the assailant was dead, killed by French and Officer Romik Keshishi and Sgt. Joan Leuck, who were also named TOP COPS. French lost her spleen, part of her lung and still has a bullet lodged in her liver.
Pima County, Ariz., Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Carmona, a trauma surgeon and Vietnam veteran, had stopped at a three-car accident when one of the drivers fired a semiautomatic handgun at him, the bullet grazing his temple. Carmona exchanged gunfire with the man, killing him. After it was over, he found out the gunman was an ex-con who had just murdered his father.
The seven other winners were: Special Agent Blake Boteler of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, whose investigation of an outlaw motorcycle gang in Colorado resulted in more than 40 arrests; Sgt. Joe Delia, a Maryland Heights, Mo., detective, who broke up a prostitution ring; Officer Lee Evans of the West Windsor Township, N.J., Police Department, who rescued a driver from a car that had crashed over a bridge and into the water below; Special Agent Michael Vigil of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Caribbean Field Division in Puerto Rico, who led a drug-trafficking investigation that resulted in nearly 1,300 arrests; Deputy Joseph Craig and Sgt. Patrick “K.C.” Saulet of the King County, Wash., Sheriff’s Office, who drove through gunfire to rescue a wounded deputy, and Officer Dennis Devitte of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, who sustained eight gunshot wounds while stopping an armed robbery attempt.
Let the buyer beware
Buying a police dog at a discount was a bargain that ultimately did not pay off for the Snohomish County, Wash., Sheriff’s Department.
Last year, the agency had to retire Yukon, a German shepherd it acquired in 1996 for $1,000 or about one-fifth the usual asking price. In the end, the dog ended up costing the county more than $400,000 in a civil-rights lawsuit brought by a convicted burglar who lost nearly half his foot when Yukon refused to let go.
Yukon was originally sold to the Tacoma Police Department by a breeder who, so officers had been told, repeatedly hit the dog. Paired with Loretta Cool, a veteran patrol officer who had hoped to become the city’s first female dog handler in decades, the 7-year-old Yukon proved too much for her to handle.
After washing out of the K-9 program, in an incident that sparked a gender-discrimination suit by Cool, Yukon was sold to Snohomish County. During his 3½-year career there, he helped deputies capture dozens of suspects, but also bit at least 15 people, not all of them alleged criminals. He also bit his handler, his handler’s son and nephew, a neighbor and other deputies.
But Sheriff Rick Bart, who said he had to retire Yukon in February because the agency could not risk another incident involving the dog, defended the shepherd. Yukon, he told The Associated Press, made dozens of successful visits to schools and community groups. He spotted a suspect in a tree who was waiting to slam a log into a pursuer’s head. “It was a $1,000 gamble,” said Bart.
Getting down to business
There is a lot of work to do in Baltimore and Edward T. Norris, appointed police commissioner on May 8, said at that time that he could not wait to get down to it.
“It” includes clearing the city’s street corners of drug dealers, and reducing Baltimore’s stubborn homicide rate, which has stymied police and city officials for a decade. The deaths of 34 children in 1999 were what most outraged Norris. “Kids are still being killed here,” he said.
An architect of the New York City Police Department’s aggressive policing plan when he served as a deputy commissioner there, the 40-year-old Norris is credited with helping bring about the dramatic slide in the city’s murder rate. During a nine-year period beginning in 1990, the number of homicides in New York fell from 2,200 to under 700.
Baltimore officials hired him in December to serve as a deputy commissioner and chief of operations under a two-year contract worth $137,000 annually. But with the resignation of Commissioner Ronald Daniel in January after just 57 days in the post, Norris assumed the interim spot.
Speaking during the City Council meeting where his appointment by Mayor Martin O’Malley was approved, Norris said that Baltimore can meet its goal of reducing homicides by implementing the zero-tolerance strategies employed by such cities as Philadelphia, New Orleans and New York. Baltimore has been unable to bring its murder total to below 300 a year.
Norris was the third to hold the commissioner’s position during a seven-month period beginning in 1999 and ending last year. Daniel, who replaced Thomas Frazier, quit soon after his appointment in January, citing irreconcilable differences with O’Malley over crime-fighting strategies and a timetable for their implementation.
It wasn’t that St. Louis Police Officer Milton Tooks wanted all of the attention, but neither did he want colleagues to think he had stayed in the patrol car while his partner, Kirk Deeken, rescued four children and an adult from a burning apartment in 1998. So when Deeken was awarded a Medal of Valor in November and Tooks was not, he was concerned.
It turned out to be nothing more sinister than a paperwork mix-up. According to a report by the Missouri Highway Patrol, which was asked to look into the oversight, Tooks’s name was left out of the list of submissions for the medal when the executive director of the administering agency, Crusade Against Crime, dropped a pile of documents and failed to pick them up in the same order. As a result, Tooks’s name was placed in the wrong pile, said the group’s president, Charles W. Bobinette.
Tooks, 45, was awarded the medal in December, one month after the other winners. Had he been honored at the November ceremony, he would have been the only black officer out of 12 who received the award.
Tooks, who joined the St. Louis police in 1995 after 20 years in the Army, was responding with his partner to a report of a fire on Oct. 1, 1998, when they were met by neighbors gathered outside, who told the officers there were children in the building. As they opened the door to the apartment, two ran past them. Deeken found another child on a mattress, and Tooks found an adult and a child asleep in another room. The officers carried the children to safety as the kitchen erupted in flames.
“As a cop, you don’t wake up and think you’re going to go into a burning building,” Tooks told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
No time to lose
With less time than most newly appointed commissioners to effect change in a law enforcement agency, William Willett, the 68-year-old veteran officer named to lead the Nassau County, N.Y., Police Department, began cleaning house before he was even sworn in in March.
Willett, who has served with the agency for 46 years, was chosen by County Executive Thomas Gulotta to replace Donald Kane. Willett faces mandatory retirement in May 2001 when he turns 70, but annual evaluations of his performance could extend his tenure until he is 76, according to a spokesman for the state comptroller’s office.
The county’s first black police commissioner, Willett served as first deputy commissioner under Kane. He said he would have to see where the department’s budget could be slimmed down. At the time of his appointment, the county was facing a $100-million deficit, with nearly a quarter of its $2.2-billion budget going toward maintaining its police force. The agency’s 3,000 officers are among the highest paid in the country.
One day before being sworn in on March 27, Willett asked for the resignation of Andrew Kenny, the second deputy police commissioner, and told Det. Lieut. Kevin Caslin, the department’s public information officer, that he would be transferred. Both had been top aides for Kane.
Willett said he would like to save $12 million to $15 million in costs. A firm believer in civilianization, he said turning over some jobs to paid civilian staff would solve many of the agency’s problems.
Brownout in Raleigh
The city of Raleigh, N.C., lost its police chief in December when Mitch Brown, its first black police leader, stepped down after six years at the helm.
Brown was selected by City Manager Owen Benton in 1994 to replace Fred Heineman, who had stepped down to run for Congress. A Vietnam veteran who joined the force in 1972 at age 23, Brown was also Raleigh’s first African American major, a rank he attained in 1990.
Although he pleased Benton and other city officials, who said Brown “followed [their] wishes to a T,” he was not quite as popular with his troops.
Last spring, a quiet protest was made over pay raises. Launched by Officer T.J. Thompson, a three-year veteran, the action landed him on the carpet in Brown’s office. The chief wanted to know if the protest signaled internal division within the agency.
Thompson told The Raleigh News & Observer that he believed Brown cared about his officers, but often seemed more interested in public relations than the day-to-day concerns of his force. Worried that too many of his peers were leaving the force, he said: “I understand the politics involved, but when it comes down to it, there are drugs and people killing each other and hard-core street-level realities of crime, which only having enough officers will solve. I think this department could use a change in leadership.”
Maj. John R. Knox, the police department’s head of field operations, was named interim chief while a search for a permanent successor is conducted.
Doing the right thing
No new ground was broken in the selection of a superintendent for the Virginia State Police this year, but state officials believe that permanently appointing W. Gerald Massengill, who has held the reins on an acting basis, was “the right thing to do.”
After a lengthy nationwide search, Gov. Jim Gilmore chose Massengill, a 33-year veteran, over two finalists last summer who would have made Virginia history: Richmond Police Chief Jerry A. Oliver, who would have been the first black superintendent of the agency, and Durham, N.C., Police Chief Theresa Chambers, who would have been the first female named to the post. The appointment of either one would also have marked the first time an outsider was appointed to lead the state police.
Massengill had served as head of the organization since January, when Col. M. Wayne Huggins retired to take a job in the private sector. A member of the U.S. Air Force security police from 1961 to 1965, the 58-year-old Massengill will oversee 2,500 sworn and civilian personnel, and manage a $212-million budget.
At the top of his agenda will be raising the troops’ morale, said Massengill. “I think one of my priorities will be to continue to make the working environment of the State Police enjoyable,” he said. The agency will continue its crackdown on interstate speeders and shipments of illegal drugs.
“We’re doing so many things right,” Massengill told The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Good neighbor policy
Police in Emeryville, Calif., not only tried to find the person responsible for trashing a first-time home-buyer’s residence, they turned out en masse in March to help their new neighbor, Frances Carty, restore her house.
Carty, a self-described “tough New Yorker” who is not letting anybody scare her away, spent a miserable first night in her new home the day after Christmas in 1999. Vandals had caused $24,000 worth of damage, including chopping holes in her roof, cutting gas lines, painting obscenities on the walls, pouring cement down the water main, and spreading roof tar on her front porch and steps.
Enter the Emeryville Police Department. After answering at least eight calls from Carty, Officer Barbara Madarang said, the city’s Police Officers Association thought “it might be something nice to do to get involved in the community.”
On March 4, all 37 members of the force volunteered their off-duty time to haul away trash and scrub the house in four-hour shifts. Even Chief Ken James lent a hand.
“A lot of us were on days off,” Madarang told Law Enforcement News. “Guys that were working graveyard shift stayed over and did their four hours, the guys that were working swing shift came in six hours before that so they could go home and take a shower.” The department worked from 7 A.M. to about 6 P.M., she said.
Although Carty hired a private investigator to find out who damaged her house, the leads have been few. Court documents show that the former owner of the house, who also lives on the street, lost the place in a foreclosure proceeding. During the clean-up, said Madarang, the former owner told the media that the effort was an inappropriate use of police time.
What most police executives would call disastrous — a sexual harassment suit, stalled salary negotiations and low morale — Irvine, Calif., Police Chief Charles S. Brobeck considered “very exciting.” But now, after nine years, he is leaving all that excitement behind to travel around the country with his wife.
Brobeck, 60, announced in November that he will be retiring this summer. He called his tenure with the Irvine department the highlight of a 40-year career in law enforcement. “The first three or four years were very exciting,” Brobeck told The Los Angeles Times, “but that’s part of being a police chief today.”
From the time he succeeded Leo E. Peart in 1991, Brobeck was handling one crisis after another. Within months, the department was rocked when five female employees filed a complaint alleging sexual discrimination. Brobeck was praised in some quarters for quickly calling in federal investigators.
Then in less than two years, tense relations with the officers’ union over salary and low morale sparked complaints about lack of leadership at the agency. At the same time, Brobeck was presiding over a near 50-percent expansion in the number of the agency’s sworn officers to 159. Money magazine named Irvine the safest large city in the country in 1994.
Among his proudest achievements, however, was the establishment of an innovative program that required all officers over the age of 40 to undergo extensive cardiovascular examinations every two years. Health problems were detected in four officers in just a few weeks, said Brobeck.