Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVII, No. 564 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY October 31, 2001

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Command presence; cop rock; shooting gallery; early departure; agency heads among the WTC dead.
Lost in the shuffle: Report card gives 911 systems a ‘B.’
Taking a back seat: Privacy of officers’ personnel files takes a hit in court.
The last full measure of devotion: Law enforcement personnel dead or still missing at the World Trade Center.
Drop in the bucket: FBI says hate crimes are a small fraction of reported offenses.
Facing up to profiling: Supreme Court takes a pass on appeal.
Gangland on-line: Gangs use Web sites to tout their lifestyle, recruit new members.
Payback: Despite austerity, sheriff says he’ll honor a debt to watch out for elderly.
Forum: It’s time to arm pilots, among other steps.
Under the radar: Local agencies suffer, almost unnoticed, from the strain of stretched resources.

 
Really trying
When it comes to interagency cooperation, is the FBI really trying harder or just trying locals’ patience?

      Although the investigation into the recent terrorist attacks on America has led federal agents into many of the nation’s small and medium-sized cities over the past few weeks, angry police chiefs say little if any information gathered from the ongoing probe has been shared with local authorities.
      During a photo op in October with state and local law enforcement executives, Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert J. Mueller hailed a “spirit of cooperation” that was “truly remarkable.” There are those chiefs who would agree with that sentiment, saying that interagency communication has never been better. Even more, however, claim that behind the facade of unity, the bureau is as close-mouthed with local police as ever...


Arresting development in latest DV research

      Bringing full circle two decades of research on domestic violence policies, a new statistical analysis has found that arresting batterers reduced repeat incidents of domestic violence in each of the cities previously studied.
      The research follows up on field experiments carried out from 1986 to 1991 under the National Institute of Justice’s Spouse Assault Replication Program (SARP) in Charlotte, N.C., Dade County, Fla., Colorado Springs, Omaha and Milwaukee. The experiments sought to determine whether arrest in misdemeanor domestic violence cases worked better at reducing recidivism than less formal alternatives, such as mediation by police or temporary separation of the couple...


DoJ decides suit is a bad fit
But female fitness standards may still have day in court

      For four years, the U.S. Justice Department has pressed a civil rights lawsuit against the South Eastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA), alleging that the agency’s physical fitness entrance requirements for police discriminate against female applicants. This month, on the day its appellate brief was due to be filed, the Justice Department abruptly dropped the issue.
      According to sources cited by The Legal Intelligencer, a publication for lawyers, the Justice Department’s decision to withdraw came after a lengthy internal battle, with many lawyers from DoJ’s Civil Rights Division fighting to remain on the case...


Lost in the shuffle:
Report card says 911 systems rate a ‘B’

      Issued on Sept. 11 and lost in the shuffle of the events of that day, the first-ever report card on the country’s 911 system was unveiled by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), which awarded an overall grade of “B.”
      “911: Report Card to the Nation,” was the result of a comprehensive study that assessed the system’s current status and its future, said the association. “While our research indicates that 911 is working well today, and has proven to be a dramatic life-saving service to the public over the past 35 years, we must continue to invest in its future,” said Sharon Counterman, the president of NENA...


Officers’ privacy takes a hit in court rulings on personnel files

      Concerns about the health and safety of police in southern Ohio will have to take a back seat to the well-being of a free and democratic society, a federal judge said in effect last month, in a 29-page opinion ordering the release of personal information from officers’ personnel files.
      U.S. District Judge George C. Smith said that to deny members of the press access to public information “would silence the most important critics of governmental activity.” Officers, he said, would have to prove that releasing such information as home addresses, disciplinary records and the identities of family members posed a “very real threat” to them or the families...


The last full measure of devotion

      Among the thousands of dead or missing from the Sept. 11 terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City are 65 law enforcement officers from five local, state and federal agencies, making the disaster the single deadliest incident in American law enforcement history, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
      Following is a list of the officers who are confirmed dead or still missing, with rank and assignment (where known):...


Hate crimes: a heinous drop in the bucket

      Hate crimes represented just a tiny fraction of 1 percent of the 5.4 million crimes reported by local police to the FBI from 1997 to 1999, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported last month.
      Of the nearly 3,000 criminal offenses reported, those motivated by racial bias accounted for the largest percentage, 61 percent. Six in 10 of those targeted blacks. Incidents prompted by religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation made up 14 percent, 11 percent and 13 percent, respectively. The majority of crimes spurred by religious bias were anti-Semitic, while Hispanics were the most likely targets of crimes based on ethnicity...


High Court doesn’t want to face up to profiling appeal

      Against a backdrop of softening views by the public on racial profiling, the U.S. Supreme Court recently took a hands-off approach to the issue, rejecting an appeal by blacks who claimed their rights were violated when police rounded them up following an attack on an elderly victim.
      The appeal, Brown v. City of Oneonta, details how authorities in Oneonta, N.Y., in 1992 had requested and received a list of all male, minority students from a state college near the home of a 77-year-old woman who said she was attacked. During the struggle, the victim said, she was able to determine that her assailant was a young black. Also, he might have been cut during the incident...


Underworld dot-coms: Gangs staking out turf in cyberspace

      While their efforts to recruit members via the Internet have not been all that successful, the nation’s street gangs have nevertheless been able to reach countless young people with Web sites that boast of the gangster lifestyle, gang experts say.
      Tens of thousands of gang-related sites have been posted over the past few years, with about 20 percent to 30 percent run by actual members, according to Det. Chuck Zeglin of the Los Angeles Police Department’s career criminal apprehension section...


Sheriff “buckles down” to look out for elderly

      Despite cutbacks in money and staff, the Putnam County, W. Va., Sheriff’s Department said it will be proceeding this month with an initiative aimed at ensuring that elderly or disabled residents are safe.
      Last year, the agency paid out almost $600,000 to deputies who successfully sued the county over the promotion and pay practices of Sheriff Stan Farley’s predecessor. The result was the loss of funding for five deputies and one clerical position...


Learning to play with others:
A new era, or more of the same, for feds & locals?

      New York Gov. George Pataki may have had improved federal-local cooperation in mind with his recent appointment of former FBI official James Kallstrom to head the newly created state Office of Public Security. Kallstrom, a leading terrorism expert who led the FBI’s New York field office and investigated the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800, will oversee state resources to prevent and recover from a terrorist attack. He will also serve as the primary contact between state, city and federal law enforcement, as well as with Ridge’s office.
      In an interview with Newsday, Kallstrom said more emphasis needs to be put on the detection and prevention of terrorist plots and attacks. To that end, the Justice Department and the FBI recently ordered federal agents to drop whatever they are working on — even the investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks — if they receive information or a lead that suggests another incident. The No. 1 goal is now prevention, said a law enforcement official who spoke with The New York Times on condition of anonymity...