Law Enforcement News

A special supplement A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY September 30, 2000

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Policing becomes a habit; bumps in the road; say “Ahh”; going out in style; good news for Newport News; dead or alive; missing the mark.
The long & winding road: A special supplement to this issue celebrates LEN’s 25th anniversary with a look back at policing over the last quarter of the 20th century.
Warm bodies: How two cities are bucking the troubling recruitment trend.
It’s murder out there: New Orleans tries a two-pronged approach to get a handle on homicides.
Choosing their targets: How Minneapolis police are driving down crime.
Mind fields: Charleston police learn to spot Alzheimer’s disease sufferers & come to their aid.

 
Time capsules
Events and other miscellaneous milestones in law enforcement and criminal justice, 1975-2000.

      1975
      The first issue of Law Enforcement News rolls off the press in September.

      A national recession takes its toll on law enforcement. The New York City Police Department starts laying off thousands of recently hired officers. Strikes and other job actions hit police departments nationwide.

      Television cameras begin appearing in court rooms (but not the U.S. Supreme Court).

      An early variation of community policing is adopted citywide by the San Diego Police Department.

      The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center opens its new facility in Glynco, Ga.

      The Alaska Supreme Court, citing the right to privacy, permits the personal possession of small amounts of marijuana in the home.

      The FBI’s new headquarters, the J. Edgar Hoover Building, is dedicated in Washington.

      1976
      A Rand Corporation study disputes traditional notions of detectives’ contributions to solving crimes.

      The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives is formed.

      The Police Executive Research Forum, a group of college-educated chiefs from larger jurisdictions, is formed.

      Albuquerque Police Officer Greg MacAleese creates the Crime Stoppers program, encouraging residents to offer anonymous tips to help solve crimes. The program will grow to worldwide proportions.

      Automated fingerprint identification systems make their debut in Canada.

      1977
      David Berkowitz, the serial killer known as “Son of Sam,” is caught, ending a 12-month murder spree that claimed six lives.

      New soft body-armor is credited with contributing to a reduction in police slayings.

      The federal and state prisoner population hits a record 283,268.

      Affirmative-action cases proliferate in the build-up to and aftermath of the Supreme Court’s landmark Bakke decision.

      Computerized routing of 911 calls is field-tested in California.

      1978
      The Guardian Angels, a self-styled civilian safety patrol, begins patrolling the graffiti-ridden, crime-plagued New York City subway system.

      A new study finds that delays in reporting crime have more of an impact than police response time in determining whether an arrest is made.

      Chemical mace is introduced on the beat for New York City police officers.

      Research in Newark, N.J., finds that police foot patrols do not reduce or prevent crime to any significant degree, but do increase citizens’ feelings of safety.

      The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, despite dying a slow bureaucratic death, still manages to fund 600 grass roots anticrime projects nationwide.

      The practice of videotaping confessions begins to take hold in law enforcement interrogation rooms.
      A new generation of “smart guns” gets a lukewarm response from police.

      1979
      Herman Goldstein, who previously rang law enforcement’s wake-up bell with his pioneering analysis of police discretion, first proposes the concept of problem-oriented policing.

      The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies is formed through the collaborative effort of four major professional organizations.

      Even as the U.S. Department of Transportation proposes to penalize states for non-compliance with the five-year-old national 55-mile-an-hour speed limit, efforts to repeal the limit begin gaining momentum. (However, those efforts will not come to fruition for another several years.)

      The International Union of Police Associations formally affiliates with and wins recognition from the AFL-CIO. Meanwhile, the Teamsters union, long-time bête noire of the U.S. Justice Department, steps up efforts to organize local police forces.

      The National Institute of Justice, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics are founded by an act of Congress.

      The San Francisco Police Department inducts what is believed to be the nation’s first group of admittedly homosexual police recruits.

      A federally funded study finds police job satisfaction directly linked to job autonomy and participatory decision-making.

      Deputy Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti, soon to be named Attorney General, calls for a study of marijuana legalization.

      1980
      McGruff the Crime Dog makes his debut as the spokesdog of the National Crime Prevention Coalition, urging Americans to “take a bite out of crime.”.

      The New Jersey State Police, which only five years earlier appointed its first female trooper, launches an all-female recruit class in an effort to address the sharp gender imbalance in the ranks.

      Three days of rioting erupt in the Liberty City section of Miami, sparked by the acquittal of four white Dade County police officers in the death of Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance man. The riots lead to 18 deaths and $100 million in property damage.

      The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, long a target of federal budget-cutters, is zeroed out of existence.

      The group Mothers Against Drunken Driving is founded in response to rising concern over alcohol-related traffic fatalities.

      1981
      After a 22-month killing spree that terrorized the city of Atlanta and claimed the lives of 29 young black victims, Wayne Williams is apprehended and charged in the so-called “Atlanta child murders.” The probe of the killings grew to include the efforts of a national task force of prominent criminal investigators. Williams was charged and convicted in two homicides.

      The Attorney General’s Task Force on Violent Crime recommends spending $2 billion to help localities build prisons, abolishing parole in federal cases, and loosening the exclusionary rule.

      The FBI promises to launch a vigorous recruitment program to attract female applicants.

      Riots in Great Britain leave millions of dollars in property damage, hundreds of injuries and arrests, and allegations of police brutality.

      The New York City Police Department experiments with using answering machines to handle low-priority 911 calls.

      A study by the Los Angeles coroner’s office concludes that neither hollow-point nor round-nosed bullets can stop an advancing criminal unless vital organs are hit.

      In an attempted assassination in Washington, D.C., John Hinckley wounds President Ronald Reagan along with Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady, a Secret Service agent and a city police officer.

      Fiscal belt-tightening in Boston leads to the closing of seven neighborhood police stations and pink slips for 200 officers.

      The National Institute of Justice predicts that in the future, citizens with non-emergency calls will see police by appointment, accident reports will be mailed in and some types of thefts will be handled by phone.

      The Treasury Department issues new regulations designed to close loopholes in the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act. Banks are ordered to report cash transactions over $10,000 even by regular customers.

      1982

      As more of America’s children run away or are kidnapped, later to turn up as anguished pleas on the side panels of milk cartons and other media, President Reagan signs the Missing Children’s Act into law. Police agencies will soon begin widespread efforts to fingerprint youngsters as a precautionary measure.

      The Violent Crime Apprehension Program (ViCAP), an expert system for analyzing and investigating serial murders and other crimes, is unveiled. After a few years of budgetary turbulence, ViCAP will become institutionalized at the FBI Academy as part of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime.

      A study of spousal abuse in Minneapolis finds that a policy of mandatory, on-the-spot arrest reduces the recurrence of domestic violence.

      With Florida seemingly awash in cocaine, President Reagan deploys the South Florida Task Force to increase the pressure on drug traffickers.

      “Broken Windows” enters the police lexicon, in the form of a watershed article in The Atlantic Monthly by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson.

      Concern grows within law enforcement over “cop killer” bullets capable of penetrating body armor.

      Following the police shooting of a young black man at a video arcade, riots erupt once again in Miami, this time in the Overtown section.

      The “Figgie Report” on fear of crime says urban America is losing confidence in the government’s crime-fighting ability.

      The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division launches nationwide efforts to reverse affirmative action-based hiring and promotion.

      1983
      Right-wing extremist groups begin to command a national spotlight, as the FBI launches a full investigation of the violent anti-government group Posse Comitatus, amid indications that it poses a continuing threat to law enforcement officers.

      The National Institute of Justice funds a pair of studies into ways to reduce fear of crime in Houston and Newark, N.J.

      A Congressional hearing into allegations of brutality by New York City police officers against minorities in Harlem ends just 20 minutes after it began as angry residents shout down the proceedings.

      The Chicago Police Department is about to get older, as the mandatory retirement age for police officers is raised from 63 to 70.

      A study of police personnel practices finds that nearly two-thirds of agencies across the country have budgets that have not kept up with inflation, leading to layoffs.

      The use of electronic ankle bracelets to monitor certain offenders under “house arrest” grows in popularity nationwide.

      The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is founded by the Los Angeles Police Department and the city’s school system.

      In an effort to control domestic marijuana crops, the federal government begins aerial spraying of the controversial herbicide paraquat.

      Homicide is the leading cause of death for blacks 15 to 24 years old, according to statistics reported by the Department of Health and Human Services.

      1984
      Residents of 20 states take to the streets, porches and front yards to participate in the first National Night Out Against Crime

      The legal drinking age is raised to 21 nationwide.

      Nancy Reagan becomes a leading figure in the escalating war on drugs, with her campaign urging millions of children to “Just Say No.”

      A deranged gunman who said he wanted to “hunt humans” opens fire at a McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, Calif., killing 22 people.

      The federal government authorizes the use of high-tech military hardware in the war on drugs.

      The Mt. Dora, Fla., Police Department is the first nationally accredited police agency.

      1985
      In an attempt to arrest members of the radical group MOVE, Philadelphia police drop an aerial bomb on the group’s house, burning down the building and 60 others and killing 11 people

      College education for police gets a major shot in the arm as a Federal appeals court upholds the Dallas Police Department’s requirement that recruits have 45 or more college credits.

      Seven years in development, the publication “Blueprint for the Future of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program” heralds the imminent debut of the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).

      Crack cocaine explodes on the drug scene, creating legions of new addicts and, with its non-traditional distribution methods, bringing new, younger and more heavily armed players into the drug trade.

      Nine organized-crime family bosses in New York, known collectively as “The Commission,” are indicted.

      Drug testing of police gains in prevalence throughout the country.

      Bernard Goetz, an unassuming electrical handyman, claims that he acted in self defense when he shot four unarmed black youths on a New York City subway.

      1986
      Amid mounting concern over the spreading crack epidemic, Congress passes the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which formally commits the military to drug interdiction, adopts mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking, cracks down on money laundering and sets up a program for forfeiture of seized drug-related assets.

      Major national police organizations form the Law Enforcement Steering Committee to fight legislation that would ease restrictions on gun sales.

      A federally funded study finds that an aggressive program of police-community contact can improve citizens’ sense of safety and reduce levels of fear.

      Dashboard-mounted video cameras become a fixture in patrol cars, providing an extra margin of officer safety and a hedge against police misconduct.

      One out of every 47 American men is either on parole or probation, according to Justice Department statistics. The number of state and local prisoners surpasses the half-million mark.

      Anti-abortion violence escalates, with bombing attacks against at least seven abortion clinics.

      1987
      65 mph once again becomes the rule of the road, not the exception.

      Realistic-looking toy guns in the hands of children are a growing problem for police, often with tragic consequences.

      “Preferred arrest” policies in cases of domestic violence are growing in popularity with police agencies.

      For the first time, DNA “fingerprinting” is used to win a criminal conviction, of a rapist in Orlando, Fla.

      Drug-related corruption scandals rock police departments in New York, Miami and Washington, D.C.

      An analysis of calls for service in Minneapolis finds that 64 percent of calls are generated by just 5 percent of businesses and residences.

      The Feds turn up the heat on white supremacist groups, indicting 15 top extremist leaders on charges of murder, conspiracy and plotting to overthrow the U.S. government.

      Following several controversial incidents of police use of deadly force, the New York City Police Department deploys an array of non-lethal devices for use by officers, including stun guns, hand-held water cannons, plastic shields and Velcro restraints.

      1988
      The federal government declares “zero tolerance” in the still-escalating war on drugs. Drive-by shootings increase, police conduct sweeps of troubled neighborhoods, and the nation’s first “drug czar” is appointed. The Feds report that cocaine seizures jumped by 2,000 percent from l981 through 1987.

      Drug-related corruption scandals erupt in Philadelphia and Chicago.

      The public is called on to help police track wanted fugitives, as the TV show “America’s Most Wanted” makes its debut.

      “Gangsta rap” groups target the police, with records like “F--- the Police” and, later, “Cop Killer.”

      Record-breaking homicide rates begin to appear around the country.

      Serial rapists are added to the roster of violent criminals profiled by the FBI.

      1989
      Skinheads emerge as front-line shock troops for white supremacist organizations

      The National Guard is called out in 48 states to assist in the war on drugs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development streamlines its eviction process to oust drug dealers in public housing.

      Riots erupt in Miami once again, in response to the police shooting of a black motorcyclist.

      Prompted by a schoolyard massacre in Stockton, in which six children were killed , California becomes the first state to ban assault weapons.

      Serial killer Ted Bundy — convicted of three murders and suspected in as many as 50 — is executed in Florida.

      1990
     

      Concern begins to mount within law enforcement over a possible link between emissions from traffic radar units and the development of certain rare forms of cancer.

      The first federal hate-crime legislation is passed in response to growing reports of bias-related crime.

      Shaming, an idea as old as the original 13 colonies, comes back into vogue, with newspapers publishing the names, photos and crimes of drunk drivers, prostitutes and their clients, drug sellers and buyers and other offenders.

      Hinting at the soon-to-be-popular notion of crime prevention through environmental design, police start using concrete barriers to limit open-air drug dealing by controlling vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

      The nation’s homicide toll rises to over 20,000, more than 2,000 of those in New York City alone.

      The federal government locks horns with body-armor manufacturers over minimum quality standards.

      Washington becomes the first state to require convicted sex offenders to register with authorities upon release from prison.

      Photo radar systems to track traffic violators grow in popularity, while video technology finds increasing application in recording DWI suspects, surveillance and arraignment.

      1991
      The Rodney King incident: One black traffic violator; four white Los Angeles cops; one videotaped beating. The stage is set for the rest of the decade for the LAPD.

      The arrest of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, after police officers unthinkingly returned a victim to his custody, casts a harshly unfavorable light on the Milwaukee P.D.

      Carjacking explodes onto the crime scene, popping up first in Detroit and quickly spreading across the country. When the problem reaches the nation’s capital the following year, Congress finally takes action.

      The FBI starts collecting DNA samples for its national data base.

      The National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C.

      Hoping to contain the continuing proliferation of firearms, police try “buyback” programs that offer gun owners cash bounties or other incentives if they turn in their weapons — no questions asked. Although the idea is quickly embraced by jurisdictions nationwide, the impact of such efforts is mostly symbolic.

      Curfews gain in popularity as a way of curbing youth crime.

      Pepper spray, available since the 1980s, increasingly becomes a part of the continuum of police force in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating. Over the next few years, police will start running into problems with some drugged, mentally or medically ill suspects dying after being pepper-sprayed.

      Computer-driven law enforcement continues to grow with an increase in “paperless police departments” and the use of “expert systems” that merge the high-speed thinking power of a computer with the investigative savvy of experienced detectives.

      1992
      Following the acquittals of four white officers accused of beating Rodney King the previous year, the worst urban rioting of the 20th century erupts in the South-Central section of Los Angeles. The rioting claims 52 lives, and thousands more are injured or arrested. The LAPD’s response to the disturbances is harshly criticized, and within two months, Daryl Gates is gone as chief.

      Federal agents in Idaho engage in a tense 11-day standoff with the white supremacist fugitive Randy Weaver. One U.S. deputy marshal is killed, along with Weaver’s wife and 13-year-old son.

      Electronic pendant alarms are a must-have fashion accessory for many spousal abuse victims.

      John Gotti, the New York organized-crime boss previously known as the “Teflon Don” for his seeming ability to dodge a serious criminal conviction, is sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for murder and racketeering.

      Another drug-corruption scandal tarnishes the New York City Police Department.

      Metal detectors and other security gear become a familiar part of the architecture at schools nationwide.

      1993
      Islamic terrorists bomb the World Trade Center in New York. Six people are killed and roughly 1,000 are injured.

      ATF agents raid the Waco, Texas, compound of the Branch Davidians cult to execute a search warrant. Four agents are killed. After a 51-day siege, the FBI sends in a tank that fires canisters of CS gas. The compound erupts into a fireball that kills more than 80 people, including the group’s leader, David Koresh. Exactly two years later, echoes of Waco will reverberate with a lethal bang in Oklahoma City.

      Whether known as “ice,” “crank,” “speed” or “crystal meth,” methamphetamine use rises dramatically in the Northwest, from where it slowly spreads across the country. Police confront numerous safety concerns in raiding illicit meth-cooking labs.

      Long sought by gun-control advocates, the Brady Bill is signed into law, requiring a five-day waiting period to purchase guns and background checks for would-be buyers.

      Follow-up studies of the impact of arrest in domestic violence cases finds that in some instances, arresting the abuser can lead to more hostility and repeat violence toward the victim.

      A specialized “drug court” opens its doors in Miami, Fla., setting the stage for other jurisdictions to follow.

      The FBI uses the Internet for the first time in a major criminal investigation, as part of its hunt for the elusive (and so far unknown) Unabomber.

      California adopts the nation’s first “three strikes and you’re out” law, mandating life sentences for certain chronic felony offenders. The idea is quickly adopted by dozens of other states and the federal government, and has a predictable impact on prison populations.

      Janet Reno becomes the first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney General.

      1994
      Congress passes the sweeping Violent Crime Control Act , establishing the Violence Against Women unit within the Justice Department and the Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services. The clock starts running on President Clinton’s pledge to fund the deployment of 100,000 community policing officers across America.

      The feds launch Operation Gatekeeper to beef up enforcement efforts along the U.S.-Mexico border.

      Ex-pro football great O.J. Simpson, suspected of murdering his wife and an acquaintance, surrenders to Los Angeles police, but not before leading them on a slow-speed highway chase shown live on nationwide television.

      Serial killer John Wayne Gacy is executed after 17 years on Illinois’s death row.

      Bringing crime-fighting and accountability into the 90’s, the NYPD unveils its Compstat program, which will soon be emulated and replicated by departments nationwide.

      The Justice Department and the Pentagon join forces to enhance police technology.

      The murders of Polly Klaas, 11, and Megan Kanka, 6 — on opposite sides of the country, but both at the hands of chronic sex offenders — galvanize victims’ rights advocates and fuel the passage of sex-offender notification laws.

      The blue-ribbon Mollen Commission casts a damning spotlight on the NYPD’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” internal response to police corruption.

      1995
      The federal building in Oklahoma City is destroyed by a 4,800-pound truck bomb, in a terrorist act that kills 168 people and focuses the country’s attention on right-wing “militia” groups. Recipes for making bombs are readily found on the Internet, where, increasingly, youngsters find and follow them.

      The FBI analyzes its deadly 1992 siege at Ruby Ridge and attributes failings to a relaxation of the bureau’s deadly force policy. Attorney General Janet Reno orders that deadly-force rules for Federal agents be tightened.

      Three words that will be heard again and again: Driving While Black. The ACLU asks that the Connecticut State Police record the race of every motorist stopped. The Volusia County, Fla., Sheriff’s Department, one of the pioneers of drug-courier profiling, is under scrutiny for targeting minorities at traffic stops.

      Chain gangs are back, and Alabama’s got ’em.

      Concealed weapons laws increase in popularity despite a surge in gun deaths in four of five urban areas following enactment of such laws. The Justice Department reports that handgun use in crime is increasing, while the state of Rhode Island launches the nation’s first “gun court.”

      Homicide rates in a number of cities show double-digit decreases, and police begin to take credit for the downturn.

      In a long sought move, New York City merges its housing and transit police forces with the NYPD, pushing that agency’s sworn strength past the 40,000 mark.

      FBI statistics show that 1 out of 3 DNA samples analyzed did not match the rape suspect

      “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” O.J. Simpson is found not guilty of murder, following a trial that pilloried the LAPD for investigative sloppiness.

      The FBI, which opens its new identification center in West Virginia, agrees to work with the National Institute of Justice to devise uniform standards for digital exchange of mug shots.

      The Boston Gun Project is launched, combining research, smart policing and interagency cooperation to target youth violence. Juvenile homicides are cut to zero, and stay there over a 28-month period.

      As part of Operation Gatekeeper, the feds install a 10-foot high, 24-mile long wall along the Mexican border near San Diego.

      1996
      Video surveillance systems in public areas are being used with increased frequency as a crime-prevention adjunct.

      Hoping to thwart counterfeiters, the Treasury Department rolls out a redesigned $100 bill, with new-look 50’s, 20’s, 10’s and 5’s still to come.

      The ACLU and NAACP agree to postpone a Federal lawsuit against Philadelphia after assurances that the city would adopt new police anti-corruption methods.

      California becomes the first state to use a telephone hot line for tracking information on sex offenders.

      Responding to growing use of the “date-rape” drugs Rohypnol and GHB, Congress passes the Drug Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act. Meanwhile, heroin use, especially in smokable form, is making a comeback along the East Coast, while methamphetamine continues to move inland from the West Coast.

      A Federal judge in New York clears the way for victims of firearm violence to sue gun manufacturers.

      The alleged Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, is arrested in Montana following the publication by newspapers of his 30,000-word “manifesto” and his subsequent identification by his brother.

      Move over, 911: The number 311 makes its debut for non-emergency calls in Baltimore.

      A bombing mars the Atlanta Olympic games. Federal agents rush to judgment and arrest the wrong man, later releasing him amid embarrassment and refocusing their attention on a suspect also wanted for several abortion clinic bombings.

      The Lautenberg Amendment becomes law, barring anyone with a domestic-violence conviction from possessing a firearm.

      Officers who have positive attitudes about community policing are found to make fewer arrests.

      The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms launches Project LEAD to trace illegal gun sales.

      1997
      The presence of weapons in schools is becoming a major concern. In harbingers of events to come, disaffected teen-agers in Paducah, Ky., and Pearl, Miss., turn guns on their fellow students, with lethal results.

      Project Exile is launched in Richmond, Va., bringing the weight of Federal prosecution to bear on gun violations

      A new National Law Enforcement Credentialing Board, aimed at recognizing demonstrated professionalism among experienced, college-educated police, certifies its first 94 officers.

      The City of Pittsburgh and the Justice Department enter into a historic consent decree to correct a “pattern and practice” of police abuse. The action marks the beginning of an aggressive posture by DoJ to intervene in local departments when wrongdoing is alleged.

      A study asserts that many popular anti-crime programs, including midnight basketball, neighborhood watch, gun buybacks, boot camps and DARE, do not work.

      Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant, is beaten and sodomized by New York City police at a Brooklyn station house.

      SWAT units become increasingly prevalent, while more and more departments train for terrorist and biochemical attacks

      Police agencies significantly expand their use of laptop computers, web sites and other Digital Age developments.

      Serial murderer Andrew Cunanan, wanted for a multi-state killing spree that included the death of fashion designer Gianni Versace, is found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Miami.

      The FBI is taken sharply to task for shoddy work and unreliable results at its vaunted crime lab.

      Oregon recriminalizes marijuana possession after 24 years

      Computerized reverse auto-dialing helps police get the word out to residents quickly in emergency situations.

      Pursuit policies evolve to a new level as appreciation of the danger in high-speed chases heightens.

      In first-ever federal study of police use of force, 1 percent of those who had contact with police allege that force was threatened or used.

      1998
      Shots fired by troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike wound four black and Hispanic men on their way to a basketball camp, and blow the cover off an issue that has been gathering steam for years: racial profiling. Many jurisdictions propose efforts to collect data on the race of drivers stopped by police.

      Police agencies begin to deploy portable defibrillator equipment in patrol cars.

      87 percent of chiefs in medium and large cities have bachelor’s degrees, a survey finds, and about half have advanced degrees — compared to 15 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively, in 1975.

      The brutal murders of James Byrd, a 49-year-old black man near Jasper, Texas, and Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, focus renewed attention on hate crimes.

      The global positioning system catches on with police, giving them a satellite-based means of tracking parolees and suspects.

      The FBI’s instant background-check system is completed, replacing the Brady Law’s five-day waiting period for gun purchases.

      The IACP issues a model policy for handling spousal abuse by officers.

      School shootings in Jonesboro, Ark., and Springfield, Ore., make national headlines, as more schools — including elementary schools — screen students for weapons.

      The booming economy is creating serious recruiting problems and personnel shortages for law enforcement agencies — with more to come, as the pace of retirements accelerates.

      A six-year study of the DARE program finds little or no effect on older youths, and only short-term impact on elementary-school kids.

      The FBI’s national DNA data base becomes operational.

      Court-authorized wiretaps reach a 30-year high.

      With the use of cellular telephones growing steadily, police face the problem of how to track the location of 911 calls made from mobile phones.

      Study say 1 million women are stalked each year, mostly by current or former spouses and boyfriends.

      1999
      Two students armed with guns and home-made bombs walk into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., and open fire, killing 15 people before taking their own lives. The massacre prompts widespread changes in first response and SWAT team tactics, and briefly — though ineffectually — catalyzes the gun control debate.

      The racial profiling issue takes on a new dimension, with the killing of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed street peddler, by four NYPD street-crime officers. The department’s street-stop tactics are called into question, the four officers are tried for (and acquitted of) murder, and numerous investigations into the NYPD are launched.

      The number of police officers killed in the line of duty hits an all-time low of 134.

      A rogue L.A. cop turns state’s evidence to save his own skin, opening the door to the devastating Rampart Division corruption scandal.

      The Milwaukee D.A. offers a glimpse of the future by securing a John Doe warrant against a suspect identified only by his DNA.

      Advances in computer technology leave police struggling to find the expertise to handle new forms of “cybercrime,” including hacking, identity theft and sexual predation

      Law enforcement gets ready for possible “Y2K” crises, upgrading computers and drafting operational plans for millennial worst-case scenarios.

      2000 (and beyond)

      The troubled LAPD gets ready for life under a federal consent decree. Will the NYPD be next?

      Why are police departments dropping or downgrading college-education requirements?

      Crime declines for the eighth straight year. How long will the downturn last?

      DNA testing and questions of innocence prompt a death-penalty moratorium in Illinois. Will other states follow suit?

      “Smart” guns for police are said to be just around the corner. How smart can/should/will they be?

      The COPS office has reached its goal of funding 100,000 community police officers. Will community-oriented policing outlive the inevitable end of federal funds?