Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVII, Nos. 547, 548 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY January 15/31, 2001

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
No quick fixes: The LA County sheriff unveils a 30-year overhaul plan.
Mutual affection: Police & criminals alike in New Orleans love their Glock 40s.
Warming up to cold cases: Future forensic scientists aid investigators.
Tip of the hat: NAACP salutes NHSP.
People & Places: Cop-hating legislator cops out; woman at the helm; crocheting a tangled web; a pioneer’s passing; C-OP is a two-way street; hot wheels; sticking around; now you see them, now you don’t.
Boy, oh Boise: Landlords are targeted in drug crackdown.
Toxic export: A Massachusetts molester is suspected as Montana cannibal.
Vote-rocking: Town wants cops to show their voter IDs.
Forum: Community prosecution is the real deal; putting the drug war’s folly on the silver screen.
Trial & error: Simulations avoid real-life mistakes.
DC, we have a problem: Homicide unit overhaul is planned.
Info at the ready: FDLE expands its Web offerings.
Criminal Justice Library: “Tired Cops: The Importance of Managing Police Fatigue.”
Doffing their suit: Gun makers hope for a better deal from Bush.
R.I.P.: Police deaths surged in 2000.
Staying in: Court says sex offenders can still be held after prison terms are up.
Border crossing: Mexico court OKs drug suspect’s extradition.

 
Forms follow function
NYPD gets serious about improving police-community relations

      In hopes of improving the police department’s uneasy rapport with minority residents, New York City Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik this month outlined a series of sweeping changes that will affect the way officers of all ranks interact with citizens in the future.
      The measures were unveiled by Kerik and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on Jan. 15, on what would have been the 72nd birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. They include mandatory attendance by police commanders at community meetings, routine surveys of public satisfaction with the NYPD and a new training curriculum that will focus on community relations for recruits and supervisors. As an incentive, officers will now be rewarded with days off for improving community relations, just as they have been for fighting crime...


Strapped for personnel, Portland kills four-year degree requirement for recruits

      Officials with the Portland, Ore., Police Bureau this month said they regretted the decision to rescind a four-year college degree requirement, but maintain that a steep decline in the number of applicants to the agency over the past few years and an anticipated flood of retirements in the near future made the move essential.
      “We realized we needed to make an adjustment,” said Police Chief Mark Kroeker. “I don’t view it as a lowering of our standard. I view it as an opening of the door to other qualified candidates,” he told The Oregonian...


Packrat behavior is blessing & curse as Illinois police have to save more evidence

      Police in Illinois may now have to find a way to preserve some very large pieces of evidence, such as vehicles, in order to secure the very smallest type of evidence — DNA samples — under a law that took effect this month requiring all evidence relating to a murder to be permanently saved.
      Legislators passed the law in the wake of the state’s moratorium on the death penalty, based on the notion that new technology could one day free a person wrongly imprisoned for a crime. The statute also requires the retention for 25 years of evidence in sexual assault or abuse cases, and for seven years in felony cases where a genetic profile of the defendant has been created...

No quick fix in LA County
Sheriff unveils comprehensive 30-year overhaul plan

      What took 150 years to create, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca hopes to recreate in one-fifth the time, with a sweeping $1-billion plan for overhauling his agency that includes everything from cottages for female inmates and their newborns to more convenient visiting hours at the jail.
      The 30-year plan, known as LASD2, was unveiled by Baca in December. His goal, he told The Los Angeles Daily News, is to re-examine the Sheriff’s Department and then rebuild it as if never existed. “What I’m doing for the county of Los Angeles is getting rid of excuses as to why something can’t be done,” said Baca. “We’re getting things done — period. I’m tired of heavy bureaucratic talk.”..


Weapons of choice:
Police, criminals both love their Glocks

      An AK-47-style assault rifle imported from China and the Glock .40-caliber pistol — the latter a standard-issue weapon for New Orleans police — were among the weapons most frequently seized from young criminals by officers in the Big Easy during 1999, according to an annual report released in January by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
      The Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative, which tracks weapons used in crimes, found that New Orleans almost matches the national picture when it comes to the illegal gun possession. Nearly 7 percent of gun-related crimes in the city were associated with juveniles, as compared with 9 percent in the 36 cities studied by the ATF. Some 40 percent of guns in New Orleans were taken from people age 24 and younger; the national average is 43 percent...

Future forensic scientists take a crack at Arlington’s cold cases

      As part of a collaborative arrangement between George Washington University and the Arlington County, Va., Police Department, students working towards a master’s degree in forensic science will get invaluable experience working on cold homicide cases while detectives will get not only a fresh set of eyes, but fresh, scientifically-trained eyes at that.
      The program, which began in September, uses the students to reexamine unresolved homicide cases. They follow a comprehensive methodology developed by the Naval Investigations Service, Chief Edward Flynn told Law Enforcement News, which focuses on the passage of time, especially changes in personal relationships and technological improvement as criteria to apply to previously unsolved murders...


NAACP tips its hat to police

      Trivia question: How many times in the 91-year history of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has the group formally honored a police agency for its professionalism, dedication and fairness?
      Answer: Just once, and it happened Jan. 22 when the New Hampshire State Police was saluted by the NAACP’s Greater Manchester chapter...


Boy, oh Boise: Landlords targeted in drug crackdown

      Easing the fears of landlords last month, Boise police and city officials said that a new ordinance that holds owners partly responsible for repeated drug activity on their property will be used only against a very few who are irresponsible and refuse to cooperate with drug enforcement efforts.
      According to Police Chief Don Pierce, Boise has a higher per-capita rate of methamphetamine lab busts than most other Western cities. The first order of business for police, he said, will be to aggressively train landlords and implement a process for notifying all owners that drug manufacturing, selling and buying has been confirmed on their property...


Exporting a crime problem:
From Mass. molester to Montana cannibal

      Montana authorities are incensed at their counterparts in Massachusetts, after it was revealed that under a deal struck by Bay State prosecutors in 1991, a convicted child molester now accused of cannibalizing a 10-year-old boy was given a suspended sentence in exchange for moving to Montana.
      Prosecutors in Cascade County have charged Nathaniel Bar-Jonah, 43, with kidnapping and murdering Zachary Ramsey in 1996, than feeding his remains in a variety of dishes, including stews and sauces, to friends and family in Great Falls...


To keep out illegal aliens, town wants only card-carrying voters

      Although it is not yet a widespread problem, village officials in Winnetka, Ill., are concerned that illegal aliens may try to find jobs on the local police force and have taken steps to make sure that only legal U.S. residents apply. Their sure-fire solution? Require that all applicants possess a voter registration card.
      “It’s gotten to the point where you need a degree in immigration law to determine whether someone is a citizen or not,” said Don Derning, a member of the Winnetka Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, who requested that members of the village council pass the ordinance. “This would make it easier to find out with less paperwork.”..

This is only a test:
Avoid real-life errors through simulations

      By providing what amounts to a dress rehearsal for the street with realistic driving and use-of-force simulators, officials with the Riverside County, Calif., Sheriff’s Department are hoping they can sharpen deputies’ split-second decision-making abilities.
      The simulators were purchased with grant funds by the California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training. They use interactive videos to test how officers respond in dangerous situations and how well they can drive under difficult circumstances, such as pursuits. Officials told The (Riverside) Press-Enterprise that they hoped the training would reduce deaths, injuries and liability costs while improving safety for the state’s police agencies...

Conceding problems, DC police revamp homicide unit

      Conceding that his department’s criminal investigation process was inadequate, Washington, D.C., Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey told City Council members in January that he would be overhauling homicide investigations by adding more officers, creating a criminal investigator’s training academy and requiring written exams for new detectives.
      Ramsey was called on the carpet after a year-long investigation by The Washington Post, released in December, pointed out fundamental flaws in the Metropolitan Police Department’s murder cases. Among the findings were dozens of cases closed without arrest under unclear circumstances. In the past decade, the newspaper reported, 1,500 homicides have gone unsolved. There was also poor supervision of detectives, who are scattered in districts throughout the city, and hundreds of missing or incomplete case files. The poorest performance in the past 10 years was in 1999, said The Post, when nearly two-thirds of the murders went unsolved...

FDLE weaves a broader Web

      It’s no longer just stolen cars and stereos on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Web site. Since December, the agency has added a link that provides the public with access to some 270,000 names of those residents who have been reported missing or wanted by police.
      “You can search for a neighbor, a co-worker, a relative or anyone you want to investigate and see if they’re wanted,” said Rick Morera, a spokesman for the FDLE’s Tampa Bay regional office...


A better deal with Bush?
Gun makers drop lawsuit against HUD

      The pact reached between Smith & Wesson and the federal government last April was supposed to be the first chink in the armor of the nation’s gun manufacturers. But now the venerable Massachusetts-based gun maker’s very survival is at stake, and firearms industry leaders, confident in the Bush administration’s lack of interest in pursuing restrictions, have dropped their lawsuit against the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
      Gun makers said in January they were dropping their suit against HUD and 39 other government officials and municipalities because the new Republican administration was unlikely to support a program favoring Smith & Wesson...


Police deaths surged in 2000

      An increase in the number of shootings and accidental deaths were among the factors that contributed to a rise last year in line-of-duty deaths, according to figures released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and the group Concerns of Police Survivors.
      Nationwide, 151 officers were killed in 2000 as compared with 134 in 1999, which was the lowest level recorded since 1965. Causes of deaths cited for the 12.7-percent increase included a jump in the number of fatal shootings — 51 last year as compared to 45 during the previous 12 months...


When the prison term is up, sex offenders can still be held

      Once it has been determined that additional confinement following time served in prison by convicted sex offenders is civil in nature, then double jeopardy may not be invoked, regardless of the punitive aspects to that confinement or lack of adequate treatment, according to a decision in January by the U.S. Supreme Court.
      The 8-1 decision on Jan. 17 overturned a ruling by the federal appeals court in San Francisco, which gave convicted rapist Andre Brigham Young the opportunity to show that his continued civil confinement after the expiration of his criminal sentence 12 years ago was unconstitutional...


Mexico’s top court says ‘si’ to extradition of drug suspect to U.S.

      In a precedent-setting break with tradition last month, Mexico’s highest court ruled 10-to-1 to allow a Mexican citizen charged as a cocaine kingpin in the United States to be extradited to face American justice.
      An unsatisfying extradition arrangement with the Mexican government has long been a sticking point for American authorities, who contend that dozens of Mexican drug traffickers remain at large. Some have suggested that Mexican authorities are paid to protect smugglers either by botching cases or fighting extradition for fear that defendants will testify against them...