Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVII, No. 567, 568 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY December 15/31, 2001

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In this issue:

Frozen moments: Images from 2001.
DARE officials yield on the issue of curriculum overhaul.
Reduced funding for policing’s “secret weapon.
Terror attacks prove little deterrent for drug traffic.
USA’s porous borders get a second look.
A regular riot: Troubles aplenty in Cincinnati and elsewhere.
A change in fortunes for a troubled FBI.
800 megahertz seems like an unlucky number.
Facing up to some harsh new surveillance realities.
Racial profiling is more than just a black and white issue.
Policing goes back and forth on college requirements.
Can the thin blue line get much thinner?
How terror attacks added to a shifting gun-control landscape.
The tug of war between police and the media over privacy issues.
Legislating against terror with the 2001 Patriot Act.
People & Places: Some of the personalities who made their mark on 2001.
DNA concerns widen and deepen the gene pool.
Judges and legislatures still wrestle with nuances of the sex-offender issue.
Militias have dwindled, but there’s still plenty of hate out there.
Who’s looking over policing’s shoulders? It seems like just about everybody.
Columbine is history, but school violence persists.
Order in the court: The Justices have their say.
Giant technological leaps sometimes come in small packages.
Justice by the Numbers: A statistical profile of criminal justice in the post-Sept. 11 era.

 
2001 — the year in review:
Back & forth go college requirements

      Although fears of dampening already depressed recruitment levels forced police departments in some cities to rescind their four-year college degree requirements last year, still others, seemingly undaunted, forged ahead with higher-education initiatives including a proposed law enforcement college in California and a program in Florida under which a sheriff’s department will — under certain circumstances — pick up the tab for a two-year degree.

      The first day of a new two-course certificate program for New York City police officers began at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in May. Participants would be able to earn up to six credits, choosing either or both of the courses, “Policing in a Multicultural City” and “Supervision and Leadership in the Police Service.” The tuition-free program was funded by a $500,000 grant from the City Council. In April, John Jay was again ranked by U.S. News & World Report as having the nation’s best graduate program in public administration with a specialty in criminal justice policy.

      The Nassau County, Fla., Sheriff’s Department announced that it would pay for the associate’s degree of any deputy who earns better than a C average. Sheriff W.R. Geiger said in February that the county’s proximity to Interstate 95 made it possible to fund the program with seized drug assets.

      A proposed $76-million law enforcement college for training federal, state and local personnel entered the planning stage in May when California legislators included $1.6 million for the facility in the 2001-2002 budget. The proposal, spearheaded by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and Assemblyman George Runner (R.-Lancaster), was said to have been prompted by the lack of such facilities in Southern California.

      Questions of academic rigor were raised in February regarding a 30-year-old Massachusetts program aimed at providing educational incentives to law enforcement, which was projected to cost some $2 billion by the year 2016. Under the Quinn Bill, cities and towns are reimbursed for half of the salary bonuses they pay to officers who have earned two-year, four-year and graduate degrees. Experts have called the program an “economic boondoggle,” saying the low academic standards of many of the participating colleges hurt policing by creating an illusion of an educational process.


Despite recruiting concerns, education and training standards show overall signs of advancement.


      Said Jack Greene, dean of Northeastern University’s College of Criminal Justice: “If the goal is to get the police profession to rise, in part by virtue of education, then as a police leader in this state I would be arguing for the strongest and most stringent educational standards that we can get to raise the boats.”

      Said Jack Greene, dean of Northeastern University’s College of Criminal Justice: “If the goal is to get the police profession to rise, in part by virtue of education, then as a police leader in this state I would be arguing for the strongest and most stringent educational standards that we can get to raise the boats.”

      In Oregon, the city of Portland said in January that a steep decline in the number of applicants to the police department had forced it to discontinue a four-year degree requirement. When implemented in 1996 by then-Chief Charles Moose, the number of would-be candidates for the agency fell to 550 from an average of 2,500 from 1993 to 1995. The department will still require bachelor’s degrees for officers promoted to the rank of sergeant or above.

      The state of Massachusetts last year began implementing a provision of the 1987 Pension Reform Act which calls for thousands of municipal police officers to undergo an in-service fitness exam. Among the tasks officers were asked to perform were running an obstacle course; simulating the firing of a weapon; and a separation event meant to mimic the action of pulling two people apart and controlling them.

      In Virginia, the Hanover County Sheriff’s Department announced in September that deputies must pass a physical agility test by 2004 or face termination. Those who fail the first time around will get three more chances before the penalty kicks in, said Investigator Greg Crawford.

      The U.S. Justice Department in October decided to drop a civil rights lawsuit against the South Eastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) for allegedly discriminating against female police applicants through its physical fitness entrance requirements. The suit was dropped one day before the Justice Department’s appellate brief was due to be filed.

      High-tech firing ranges that emphasized decision-making skills over functional ability are helping to train officers in Green Bay, Wis., Lakeland, Fla., Tacoma, Wash., Riverside County, Calif., and other jurisdictions. The interactive programs, training experts say, help reduce injuries and excessive-force complaints. Some of the agencies used “simunitions,” cartridges filled with detergent that can be loaded into 9mm. pistols. The rounds allow participants to exchange gunfire in role-playing scenarios.

      “Instead of just being a shooting range, it’s now an entire force-option continuum range where [an] actor, based on the officer’s response, can escalate or de-escalate according to what officers are doing at the other end of the camera,” said Lieut. Bill Galvin, an instructor at the Cinetronic Firing Range at Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College.

       Police departments in Portland, Ore., Berkeley, Calif., and San Francisco implemented mandatory classes on gay, lesbian and transgender issues. One-hour sessions on the subject began in November at the Portland Police Bureau, which has a number of transgendered and transsexual officers and civilian staff.

      Other training issues that cropped up around the country in 2001 included:

      The Council Bluffs, Iowa Police Department put nearly a dozen officers through a five-day bicycle patrol training course in May. The first of its kind in the city, the program gave instruction in how to ascend and descend stairs on a bike, perform emergency maneuvers to avoid crashes and ride safely in traffic.

      Nine deputies in Davidson County, N.C., completed 40 hours of water rescue training in May after a drowning incident in High Rock Lake.

      Massachusetts state officials said in October they would investigate why two police recruits endured a boot-camp atmosphere at the Agawam training academy. Military-style boot camps were banned in the state after the death of a Pittsfield recruit in 1988.


Can the thin blue line get much thinner?

      They offered bonuses, cash rewards, additional vacation time and other perks to anyone who could come up with likely candidates for their agencies, but as law enforcement’s recruitment crisis dragged on last year, few police departments seemed able to attract applicants. And just when it seemed that manpower could not be stretched any thinner, the events of Sept. 11 and the subsequent call-up of military reservists took their in-service people away.

      Among those agencies that took action to increase their applicant pool:

      Gilbert, Ariz., offered town employees $500 to recruit police candidates, and signing bonuses of $1,500 to officers who transferred from other jurisdictions.

      The Los Angeles Police Department said in February that it would provide applicants with $2,000 in relocation money and offered medical insurance for recruits’ domestic partners. Mayor Richard Riordan in May announced a cash reward of $500 for city employees, including police, who recruited new officers. Only three people took advantage of the program.

      A $1,000 signing bonus for police recruits was included in DeKalb County, Ga.’s $419-million budget.

       In Mesa, Ariz., department officials implemented the Career Enhancement Program, a plan that assigns point values to a variety of skills including fluency in Spanish, paramedic certification and accident-free driving for a two-year period. Compensation bonuses for such skills ranged from $40 to $160 a month.

      In Delray Beach, Fla., any police employee who recruits a new officer was given $300, and another $700 when the recruit finishes training.

       The Clairton, Pa., City Council in May voted to lower the passing grade on the city’s written civil service test from 85 percent to 80 percent.

      The Greensboro, N.C., Police Department’s Student Outreach and Recruiting (SOAR) program admitted its first four cadets. The program uses free tuition at local colleges as an incentive for high school students interested in a career in law enforcement.

      Denver Police Chief Gerald R. Whitman in September proposed opening the department’s applicant pool to non-citizens. The practice is already in place at departments in Arvada and Lakewood, Colo., and El Paso, Texas.


Departments dream up a variety of incentives to generate new recruits.


      Waterville, Maine, Police Chief John R. Morris proposed in August that a regional hiring pool be created to lower recruitment costs, which had become increasingly problematic. Chiefs in Augusta and Winthrop agreed to share the advertising tab for candidates.

      The lack of new recruits could not come at a worse time for many police departments that were hit with attrition woes, as well.

      In Los Angeles, the department lost three officers with more than 20 years of service in May to retirement. Then an additional 19 quit; nearly all of them to work elsewhere. The manpower shortage forced the agency to declare a moratorium on detective training and to begin redeploying members of its elite anti-crime units. Returned to the field were about 10 percent of the Metro Division and 70 detective trainees.

      Early retirement packages in East St. Louis, Ill., prompted the departure of 30 officers between 1999 and 2000. Although budgeted for 72 officers, the city got by last year with just 65. East St. Louis is in a “state of emergency,” said Mayor Debra Powell, who in July called on the City Council to take action.

      Another factor siphoning officers away from public service has been the lure of lucrative private-security work. While no one can say how many of those who put in their retirement papers after Sept. 11 left for the private sector, those in the security field say they were barraged with retiring officers looking for jobs. Beau Dietl & Associates, a security investigations firm, hired 500 retired officers between October and December. And at least 100 of those retired after the World Trade Center attack, said the company’s chairman, former NYPD detective Richard (Bo) Dietl.

      When President Bush mobilized 35,000 reservists on Sept. 15, with the possibility of another 15,000 being called up, small and medium-sized agencies began to feel the pinch. Those called to active duty included Pittsburgh Police Chief Robert W. McNeilly, a second-class petty officer in the Coast Guard Reserve. The town of Hortonville, Wis., was left in limbo when Cumberland Chief Steve Linton, who had accepted an offer to head the six-person department, was called to active duty with the Naval Reserve.

      Five officers from the Lake Worth, Fla., Police Department were called up. In Fargo, N.D., the police department lost 10 of its sworn personnel and faced the loss of another 9.

      In Rutland County, Vt., Sheriff E.J. Elrick, president of the state sheriffs’ association, said many of his colleagues already faced manpower challenges. “The problem is that the hiring pool is so poor at this point,” he said. “You can only stretch people so thin.”

      A preliminary injunction requested as part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of 115 young Massachusetts state troopers was rejected on March 29 by a federal judge. The troopers wanted the agency to reinstate its mandatory retirement age of 55, arguing that its elimination was thwarting their career advancement. The age cap had been thrown out in 1998 on the grounds that it violated federal age discrimination laws.

      Added to the mix last year was the budget crunch felt by many departments:

      Charlotte County, Fla., commissioners in May rejected a $5.2-million budget increase requested by Sheriff Bill Clement. As part of a redistribution of manpower, Clement in July reassigned the eight-member K-9 unit to road patrol.

      All four members of the Chesapeake, Va., Police Department’s DARE unit were reassigned in July due to budget pressure. The move saved the department $120,000.

      Portland, Ore., Police Chief Mark Kroeker said in March that he would lay off 29 police desk clerks in an effort to meet a $1.5-million cut in spending requested by city officials.

      Faced with a salary increase of just 2 percent in 2001, the sheriff’s deputies who volunteered for the Johnson County, Ind., SWAT team resigned en masse in September.

      Huntingon, W.Va., police officials said in October that the department would close its lobby and records room on weekends and holidays in a budget-cutting move.

      The Multnomah County, Ore., Sheriff’s Department laid off two deputies and merged the duties of chief deputy sheriff with the undersheriff’s job, along with other cost-cutting measures to cover a $536,000 shortfall.