Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVII, No. 562 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY September 30, 2001

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: More than skin deep; FOP banks on Ohio; leaps & Bounds; outside in; call her “sue”; no benefits of doubt; groomed to succeed.
Rx for improvement: San Diego gets 100-item prescription on use of force.
Their transmission is slipping: Police radio system is plagued by problems.
Why it’s called “dope”: Feds get serious about barring student aid for drug users.
Shaken & stirred: DUI deaths rock NYPD personnel & policy.
A hole in the law: Court says cybersex offenses need a real victim.
Black, white & red: Chiefs fume over paper’s depiction of domestic violence.
Blinking eye: Judge throws out tickets from red-light cameras.
Tangled Web: Did a deputy’s private Web site go too far?
Something to howl at Crimes in Utah climb under a full moon.
Civics lesson: Youths get a handle on profiling, police stops.
Forum: It’s time to arm pilots, among other steps.
Blind hatred: Terror attacks stir up bias crime.

 
New duties for some police, new problems for their agencies
Reserve & Guard call-ups could hurt manpower-strapped PDs

      With the activation of thousands of military reservists and National Guard units in the days following last month’s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the questions facing law enforcement agencies, as they prepared themselves for the temporary loss of both sworn and civilian personnel, were how many, and for how long?
      On Sept. 15, President Bush authorized the mobilization of 35,000 reservists, with the possibility that as many as 50,000 from all branches of the service could be called up. The first wave of reservists and guardsmen have already begun helping with the clean-up and search and recovery operations at the World Trade Center, and others are flying air patrols over New York and Washington. Nearly 200 Air Force reservists have been assisting in the identification of at least 124 people killed when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Some 2,500 Army reservists are on active duty as military police officers and mortuary workers...


Tide of bomb threats climbs in aftermath of terror attacks

      While New York state lawmakers increased the penalties for planting a fake bomb or making a prank bomb threat just days after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, still, law enforcement can only do what it can do. Even the New York City Police Department, which has its own elite bomb squad and does not depend on state police or other agencies for assistance in handling explosive devices, cannot respond to every call — especially when dozens are phoned in, as they were during that week, causing evacuations of Grand Central Terminal, the Port Authority bus terminal and the Empire State Building, among other buildings.
      “For the bomb squad to respond to every bomb threat would be impossible,” said Brian Murphy, director of security at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a member of the NYPD’s bomb squad from 1985 to 1989. “It’s a small unit. I don’t know what their number is now, maybe in the 20s, but at any given time, they generally have six to eight people working”...


Suffrage suffers:
Chief puts right to privacy over right to vote

      It is not only convicted felons who can lose their right to vote. Sometimes police chiefs can, too — if only by default.
      With the voter registration rolls in Durham County, N.C., being posted on the Internet starting this fall, Durham Police Chief Theresa Chambers said she no longer feels as though she can vote and will ask to be removed from the voter roles...


Prescription for improvement:
San Diego PD given Rx on use of force

      The San Diego Police Department was handed a list of 100 recommendations in August by a committee created to evaluate the agency’s use-of-force policies in light of half a dozen fatal shootings in 2000, including at least one person suffering from mental illness.
      The committee, composed of 71 community members and 66 members of the police department, took over a year to conduct its review. Nine teams examined such issues as pursuit procedures; training; community issues; the media, and the mentally ill and homeless, which seemed to be of particular concern...


Faulty police radio system is nothing but a world of hertz

      Without the construction of costly new tower sites to support a four-year-old, 800-megahertz communications system shared by city police in Bloomington, Ill., and law enforcement agencies in Normal and McLean counties, radio transmission will continue to pose safety problems, public safety officials said last month.
      In August, Bloomington Police Chief Roger Aiken said he was ready to take the heat should response times fall due to his doubling up patrol units to ensure officer safety. There have been several instances in which calls for backup were not heard by dispatchers or other personnel. Under the new policy, there will still be between eight and 11 officers on the street, but they will be in three to five fewer squad cars...


Feds get serious about law barring aid to drug-using students

      Enforcement of a year-old federal law that denies financial aid to college students who either admitted to a recent drug conviction or who left the question blank on aid applications could affect as many as 42,000 applicants this year, many of them minorities or from low-income backgrounds, according to a coalition of students, financial-aid officers and lawmakers.
      The law, authored by Republican Representative Mark Souder of Indiana, withholds grants, loans or work assistance from people convicted of possession or sale of controlled substances. Students convicted of illegal possession are barred from receiving aid for a year following the conviction, and for two years for a second offense of if the conviction is for selling drugs. The penalty can be shortened if the person agrees to complete a drug treatment program that includes random testing...


Policy & personnel:
NYPD shakes things up after DUI deaths

      Last month’s tragedy involving a drunken, off-duty New York City police officer who hit and killed a family of three with his minivan after a marathon drinking session with other members of his Brooklyn precinct has prompted the department to reexamine its alcohol policies.
      In recent years, only a handful of NYPD officers have been dismissed for driving while under the influence. Typically, if a DUI does not involve injuries, discipline has included the loss of 30 vacation days and a year-long probationary period. But in the aftermath of the Aug. 4 accident that took the lives of a pregnant woman, her unborn child, her son and the boy’s aunt, the department is moving to adopt a policy under which officers could be fired for far less serious offenses if they were found to be drunk...


Without a real “victim,” Indiana cybersex law has a gaping hole

      Indiana legislators have been invited by the state’s court of appeals to take action to plug a loophole in a statute that requires that child solicitation over the Internet directly involve a minor, rather than an adult posing as one, in order to be considered an offense.
      The suggestion was made as part of an appellate ruling last month that a potential child molester could not be prosecuted under current state law because the girl at the other end of the mouse was actually a State Police detective. Unless the statute is revised to allow for the intent of the solicitor, the ruling, which upheld a lower-court decision, may hamper future cyber-sting operations, according to The Indiana Lawyer magazine...


Paper’s black & white depiction of domestic violence has chiefs seeing red

      Milwaukee County police chiefs are furious over an article that appeared last month in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that they say misrepresented a grant application from a federally-funded domestic violence reduction program, making it appear to be a report accusing them of favoring white offenders.
      The grant application was submitted by officials from the Judicial Oversight Initiative (JOI), a committee created to oversee the city of Milwaukee’s implementation of a $2-million grant it received in 1999. The money, which came from the Violence Against Women Office, funds a number of measures there, and in two other cities, Dorchester, Mass., and Ann Arbor, Mich. It will run out this fall...


Candid camera:
Judge says SD red-light camera program blinked

      A San Diego judge in September threw out the traffic tickets of some 300 motorists who had been caught running red lights by surveillance cameras — but because of a conflict of interest between the city and the company that owns and operates the devices, not because the technique violates privacy.
      The distinction made by Superior Court Judge Ronald L. Styn may seem to walk a fine line, but it was nonetheless significant to participants in the debate over the surveillance issue. Stationary cameras, whether for catching speeding motorists or giving residents in housing projects a bit of added security, have gained enormous popularity over the past few years. At the same time, however, they have made strange bedfellows of conservatives and civil libertarians, who find them “Orwellian”...


A policy vacuum:
Did deputy’s private Web site go too far?

      Law enforcement officials in Dare County, N.C., are seeking legal guidance concerning a private web site set up by a sheriff’s deputy which, they contend, crossed the line of propriety by including recordings from arrests and photographs from accidents.
      The site, called “acreatures’ lair”, was created by Andy Creech, a deputy assigned to the Beach District. In addition to a sheriff’s badge logo, information about the department and a picture of a patrol car, it features comments that Creech ascribes to people he taped on a cassette recorder during police stops...


     
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Bad moon rising
Utah study finds homicides, other crimes rise under full moon

      While it remains unclear whether any of the incidents involved werewolves, the number of homicides committed in Utah when the moon waxed full was significantly higher than on any other day, according to a study by the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation that was released last month.
      For the first time, the BCI will include in its quarterly crime reports for 2001 the findings from an 18-month period during which the agency tracked eight categories of crime — murder, manslaughter, rape, car theft, burglary, simple assault, aggravated assault and robbery — to see how many occurred during a full moon...


Civics lessons focus on profiling

      Boston youths learned about their civic rights and responsibilities this summer in a program that also gave them a straightforward look at racial profiling and dealing with police stops.
      The nonprofit initiative, called Citizen School, is sponsored by the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety. Students ages 9 through 14 participate in apprenticeships which culminate in a final project called a “Wow,” said Susan Posnitz, the state agency’s general counsel...


Blind hatred:
Terror attacks stir melting pot of bias crime

      Once an offense against the community, bias-motivated crime is now an attack against the nation, say police chiefs who continue to respond to a wave of incidents against Arab-Americans and those suspected of being Muslim or from the Middle East in the week following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
      In New Jersey, at least 26 bias crimes have been directed at mainly Jews, Arabs and Indians, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice. Most were classified as “terroristic threats” and “harassment,” said an agency spokeswoman, Emily Hornaday...