Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVII, No. 556 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY May 31, 2001

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Napoleon’s farewell; 100-grand reward; busted by the boss; the old switcheroo; kids’ heroes.
Saying “no” to pot: Canada cops’ group rejects growing liberalization movement.
Spit happens: The problem of restaurant workers tainting cops’ food.
Comings & Goings: Now you see them, now you don’t.
On the carpet: Baltimore PC gets grilled over removal of top black cops.
Shuffling the deck: LAPD tries new ways to stanch a manpower shortage.
In the clear: LAPD Chief Parks is off the hook over actions in Rampart scandal.
Something to sniff at: Drug K9’s reliability is called into question.
Under a cloud: DEA is dogged by shady informants, shaky data.
Test patterns: Oklahoma City cops seek clues through a DNA dragnet.
Too good to be true: Mass. town says “no thanks” to college-for-cops program.
Cyber-spooks in training: College grants hope to produce new generation of computer security specialists.
Forum: Learning online, or up close & personal.
Good thing in a small package: Palm-sized minicomputers take hold in policing.

 
Crunching the numbers
Experts assess the NYPD’s new online stop & frisk data

      Blacks in New York City last year accounted for nearly half of all crime victims, and more than half of all suspects identified by victims, according to never before released statistics made public this month by the police department under a new policy adopted in response to charges that its stop-and-frisk practices were motivated by racial bias.
      Data from 1998 through 2000 were posted on the New York Police Department’s web site — http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us — where it is broken down by race or ethnicity into four categories: crime victims, suspects, arrestees and those subjected to consent searches...


Some U.S. cops on duty in Bosnia are putting their worst foot forward

      American law enforcement officers recruited to serve with the International Police Task Force (IPTF) in Bosnia have not made a particularly good showing, according to United Nations officials, who pointed this month to a number of unsavory incidents involving members from the U.S.
      The IPTF, created by the Dayton peace accords that ended Bosnia’s civil war in 1995, is composed of law enforcement officers from around the globe. Recruiting Americans has been particularly difficult, however. When the White House asked the FBI and commissioners from major U.S. cities to provide a reserve pool of officers who could be sent abroad for the mission, “they slammed the door on us,” said a former Clinton administration official...


California lays initial groundwork for new $76M law enforcement college

      A law enforcement college that will train federal, state and local personnel throughout Southern California entered the planning stage this month with the inclusion of $1.6 million for the facility in the state’s 2001-2002 budget.
      The California Public Safety College, envisioned as a $76-million project, would serve as an academy for recruits, as well as a venue for police, prison and jail officers and firefighters to seek additional training and acquire degrees in criminal justice...


Canada cops’ group fights efforts to ease pot laws

      A growing movement calling for the liberalization of Canada’s marijuana laws is being countered by the Canadian Police Association, a 30,000-member organization which represents the country’s front-line officers, which came out publicly this month to decry what it described as “perceived tolerance of drug consumption.”
      In a statement before a Senate committee charged with conducting a two-year examination of illicit drugs, the association disparaged the “weakening perceptions of risk of harm in drug use and the weakening moral disapproval of drug use.” There is no distinction, said the group, between hard drugs and soft drugs, claiming that marijuana is a starter drug for other substance addictions...

Holy spit! Tainted food dogs cops

      Spit, urine, cleaning products and other contaminants found in the fast food served to police officers in restaurants around the country has left many in law enforcement wary of reaching for that next burger and fries.
      The problem is consistent with a growing disrespect for authority and antipolice sentiment in the public at large, said Jim Pasco, executive director of the national Fraternal Order of Police. “There has been an erosion in respect for authority figures in general and police officers are among the most visible authority figures, they’re going to be targets for this kind of misconduct,” he told Law Enforcement News. Another hypothesis is the resentment felt by underpaid teenage workers...

Comings & Goings:
Now you see them, now you don’t

      The nation’s small towns seemed to be where the action was this month, as some police chiefs who thought they were getting away from the stress of big-city law enforcement were chagrined to discover.
      In Joliet, Mont., new chief Bob Worthington put down a 24-hour crime spree during his first week on the job in May. Worthington, 42, retired in 1996 from a San Francisco Bay-area police agency and moved to the rural hamlet of 600. Before taking the chief’s position in April, he spent five years working for a lumber company in Billings and building a home for his wife and two children...

Baltimore pols call PC on the carpet:
Seeing red over removal of black top cops

      Called on the carpet this month for a shakeup in his command staff that included the removal of two high-ranking black officials, Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris laid out a simple equation for City Council members: When officers misbehave, people die.
      Norris came under harsh criticism in May when he gave Deputy Police Commissioner Barry W. Powell and Col. James L. Hawkins Jr. the choice of either retiring or accepting a return to a civil service rank equivalent to lieutenant. In a tense 90-minute session, Norris, who had been asked by city officials to explain his decision publicly, spoke bluntly to council members about the change...

LAPD tries rearranging the deck chairs
Manpower shortage prompts redeployment of elite squads, a halt to some training

      The Los Angeles Police Department has declared a moratorium on detective training and has begun siphoning off members of its elite anti-crime units in an effort to ease a manpower shortage through redeployment.
      Beginning in June, about 10 percent of the Metro Division, which makes up many of the LAPD’s specialized squads, will be returned to the field as training officers, along with 70 detective trainees, said a department spokesman, Sgt. John Pasquariello...

Parks is in the clear over Rampart handling

      Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard C. Parks was found by the city’s Police Commission this month to have committed no misconduct in his handling of the Rampart corruption scandal.
      Parks had been accused by Jeffrey C. Eglash, the LAPD’s inspector general, of trying to withhold from then-District Attorney Gil Garcetti information gathered by a police corruption task force. The allegations had followed a clash between Parks and Garcetti in which prosecutors claimed the chief had ordered evidence to be handed over to the U.S. Attorney’s office...

The nose knows — or does it?
Legal trouble dogs a drug-sniffing K9

      A U.S. district judge in Tennessee ruled this month that a drug-sniffing dog’s record of ferreting out narcotics in less than 50 percent of cases was grounds for overturning a magistrate’s finding of probable cause for a search that uncovered 560 pounds of marijuana last year.
      “We must accept that courts will always be ‘thwarting’ what some may view as a good piece of police work when a motion to suppress is granted in cases of this nature,” said Judge Leon Jordan. “Notwithstanding the importance of drug interdiction, however, [the court is] still charged with the responsibility of seeing that the interdiction occurs without the Constitution being violated.”..

College-for-cops is just too pricey
Mass. town balks at incentive program

      Much to the disappointment of police in Templeton, Mass., the town’s Board of Selectmen voted in May to pass over a request by the police department to accept provisions of the state’s Quinn Bill, decades-old legislation that offers financial incentives for officers earning college degrees.
      Under the Quinn Bill, cities and towns are reimbursed for half of the salary bonuses they pay to officers who earn two-year, four-year and master’s degrees. The payments not only add as much as one-third to officers’ salaries, but affect future pensions. [See LEN, Feb. 28, 2001]. In Templeton, acceptance of the legislation would have added 10 percent to the salaries of officers with associate degrees and 20 percent to those with bachelor’s degrees. A graduate degree would have meant a 25-percent increase...


DEA’s new woes: shady informant & shaky data

      Just as a five-time felon facing prosecution on drug charges walked out of a Los Angeles County jail a free man several months ago, so too might dozens of others who were convicted with the help of an undercover informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration, with whom agents continued to work despite his history of lying under oath and other criminal misconduct.
      In all, 280 convictions may be in jeopardy because federal prosecutors and DEA officials failed to heed warnings about the unreliability of Anthony Chambers, a confidential source who was paid $2 million by the DEA over 15 years, according to a 157-page report by agency investigators released under the federal Freedom of Information Act...


Creating a cadre of cyber-security experts

      More than $8.6 million in federal grants was awarded to six universities this month to cover the first-year costs of a program to train students in computer security, who will then commit to at least a year of government service.
      Part of a Federal Cyber Service Initiative, the money was made available through the National Science Foundation’s Scholarship for Service program and will provide funding for four years for sites at the University of Tulsa, Carnegie Mellon University, Iowa State University, Purdue University , the Naval Postgraduate School and the University of Idaho...


Everyone into the gene pool:
OkC cops seek clues thru DNA dragnet

      Oklahoma City police this month launched a DNA dragnet in the hopes of finding the person who matches a sample of semen left in the car of an aspiring ballet dancer who was raped and murdered five years ago.
      Investigators believe Juli Busken, a 21-year-old student at the University of Oklahoma, was abducted from the parking lot of her building as she was about to drive home to Benton, Ark., for Christmas vacation on Dec. 20, 1996. Her body was found near a lake. Busken had been sexually assaulted and shot in the head...


The power of information, in a palm-sized package

      What the newest hand-held minicomputers lack in heft, they more than make up for in the wealth of knowledge they can supply to police in those crucial moments before they approach a suspect. The devices, which tip the scales at a mere four ounces or so, are finding their way on to the equipment belts of law enforcement officers in a steadily growing number of jurisdictions, including New York City, Charleston, S.C., and Franklin County, Ohio.
      “It works discreetly, without creating a fuss,” said Assistant Chief Rafael Pineiro, commanding officer of the New York City Police Department’s management and information systems division. After field-testing 15 of the $3,500 minicomputers at crime scenes, in stolen vehicle “chop shops” and in housing projects, senior police officials have approved the purchase of 200 more of the devices as part of a plan to supply them to a larger segment of the patrol force...