Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVIII, No. 579 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY June 15, 2002

[LEN Home] - [Masthead] - [Past Issues] SUBSCRIBE

In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Radio run; new tune for Fyfe; heavy lifting; a cop’s animal instincts; now you see them, now you don’t.
Not so fast: Graduation for some recruits held up over curriculum questions.
Saudi duty: Richmond academy trains Arab police supervisors.
Making a difference: Having the right volunteer helps small agency computerize.
Preemptive strike: Illinois agencies to begin testing for steroids.
Sounding off: Excerpts from FBI agent’s whistle-blowing memo to Mueller.
Ground-level views. Local agencies react to changes in the FBI’s mission.
Common cause: Cops, doctors share perspectives on dealing with violence.
No home-field advantage: Even in LA, DARE’s fate is up in the air.
11th-hour reprieve: Montana HP pact with tribe gets an extension & review.
All there in black & white: Recent developments related to racial profiling.
Image-consciousness: Did racial profiling concerns hold back the FBI?
Forum: Big Brother is watching; practicing realism, not racism.
Silk purse: Canada pig farm holds clues to serial killings.
Time flies: NYPD’s controversial “48-hour rule” may be on its last legs.
Outside look: Two agencies to get a once-over from DoJ unit.
Card-carrying Mexicans: More cities accept ID cards issued by consulate.

 
Fed agents’ group takes wait-and-see stance on homeland security proposal

      Plans unveiled by President Bush this month to bring together under the aegis of a new Department of Homeland Security nearly all of the nation’s federal law enforcement and dozens of other government agencies has drawn little initial reaction from the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, an organization representing criminal investigators.

     “You have a concept, you flesh it out and you give it to the press and you talk about it, but we haven’t seen anything in writing,” Richard Gallo, the group’s president, told Law Enforcement News. “We may totally, absolutely 100 percent support it, maybe three-quarters.”..


Under the glare of scrutiny, FBI gets ready for a makeover

      FBI officials, under harsh criticism for failing to “connect the dots” when internal and external intelligence reports warned prior to Sept. 11 that an attack on American soil might be coming, are now seeking to redefine the bureau’s mission with a massive overhaul of both its philosophy and organizational structure.

      FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III outlined a proposal in June that will shift the bureau’s traditional focus from crime fighting to terrorism prevention. “First, and foremost, the FBI must protect and defend the United States against terrorism and foreign intelligence threats,” he said in a statement before a Senate committee. Its second duty is to enforce the nation’s criminal laws, said Mueller, and third, to provide assistance to state, local and international law enforcement, as well as to other federal agencies...


Female, minority ranks are up, but it’s more than just numbers

      While the overall proportion of minorities and women who have joined the sworn ranks of police agencies over the past decade may amount to just a few percentage points, their presence within some individual departments nearly doubled between 1990 and 2000, according to a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics that examined a variety of trends in 62 of the nation’s largest cities.

      During those years, the percentage of full-time officers who were members of racial or ethnic minorities rose from 30 percent to 38 percent in jurisdictions of more than 250,000 residents. The largest increase was achieved by Hispanics, whose numbers grew from 9 percent in 1990 to 14 percent in 2000. The percentage of black officers in those cities rose from 18 percent to 20 percent; female officers increased from 12 percent to 16 percent...


Curriculum questions thwart graduation for some Pa. recruits

     State auditors from Pennsylvania’s Municipal Police Officers Training Commission held up the graduation this month of a 28-member academy class at Beaver County Community College after concerns were raised about the soundness of the school’s curriculum.

      According to E. Beverly Young, the commission’s administrative officer, auditors were investigating the eligibility of a firearms instructor and whether the students received physical fitness instruction. The commission does not yet have all of the records it needs, including grades and attendance sheets, Young told Law Enforcement News...


Yes, Virginia, there is a Saudi clause
Richmond academy trains Arab police

     When Richmond, Va., natives greet each other far from home, they’re known to say, “When you getting back to Mecca?” That expression, a token of their affection for the state’s capital city, took on a literal meaning recently when the Richmond police academy graduated a class of 20 Saudi law enforcement officers who had been training there for the six months.

     The contingent is the first from a foreign country to receive instruction at the academy. Even though the class began after Sept. 11, the Saudis, all supervisors on their country’s national police force, encountered no negative feedback, said Lieut. Roger Russell...


The right volunteer makes big difference for small N.H. agency

     The police department in Weare, N.H. — a little corner hole in the snow, as its chief calls it — has become the envy of the State Police and even of the New Hampshire court system ever since a local volunteer created a computer program that cut the time it once took to process arrestees from several hours down to mere minutes.

      The Fast Book software was developed by Walter Bohlen, a retired television computer graphics engineer and two-time Emmy-award winner. Bohlen, along with his son, Timothy, of Dunbarton, donated an estimated 700 hours to the department to streamline its arrest and warrant procedures. Now a computer consultant, Bohlen’s services would have cost Weare an estimated $90,000 or more...


Preemptive strike:
Steroid testing due for Illinois cops

     A number of police departments in DuPage County, Ill., have added anabolic steroids to the roster of illegal substances for which officers are randomly tested.

     Among the agencies are those in Wood Dale and Bloomingdale, with the latter believed to be one of the first jurisdictions in the area to add the drugs to the testing list. And Bensenville’s director of public safety, Al Bettilyon, said it was likely that when the department’s next labor contract was ratified in 2003, testing for steroids would be one of its provisions.


Agent’s memo to Mueller turns up the heat under questions of what the FBI knew, and when.
The FBI gets ready for a makeover to confront the anti-terrorism era

     ...Attorney General John Ashcroft said he will also ease 25-year-old restrictions on the FBI’s ability to conduct domestic spying. Agents will now be able to surf the Internet and visit online chat rooms to search for evidence of terrorists’ preparations, use data-mining services to help develop potential leads, and initiate counterterrorism inquiries without waiting for approval from FBI headquarters. Inquiries could last from 180 days to a year before being reviewed by officials, according to a report by The New York Times.

      “Under the new rules, we allow the field to conduct the investigations and we will give headquarters the ability to analyze the information,” a senior Justice Department official told The Times. “No longer will there be disparate pieces of information floating around in isolation in different parts of the country. Now you have a much greater ability to connect those dots.”...


Locals weigh options

     While it is still too early to assess the impact that the withdrawal of the FBI from many joint initiatives will have on state and local law enforcement, reactions by departments run the gamut from cautious optimism to concerns of a now heavier burden.

      “At this point, we have no fear that the FBI’s support of our investigations is going to decline,” Amy Bertsch, an Alexandria, Va., police spokeswoman, told The Washington Times. “After the attacks last fall, we were told not to expect any special FBI agents to automatically respond on our bank robberies, and yet the first bank robbery we had, there they were on the scene immediately.”..


You scratch my back...
Cops, MDs find common ground against violence

     Both groups hold a wealth of information about crime and violence, but rarely do those in the medical and law enforcement communities breach their professional boundaries to share information. In Richmond, Va., however, a program now in its fifth year has quietly been making inroads, addressing the issue of community violence from the two different environments that police and doctors inhabit.

     Called “Cops & Docs,” it is more a strategy for dealing with violent crime than an actual initiative with assigned officers, noted Colleen McCue, supervisor of the Richmond Police Department’s Crime Analysis Unit. The agency felt it would be “shorting itself” if it only committed a limited number of officers to the project. Instead, she told Law Enforcement News, officers are free to avail themselves of the training either on or off the clock with their supervisor’s permission...


Even in LA, DARE’s fate is up in the air

     While jurisdictions nationwide have reconsidered and in some cases discarded the DARE program in recent years, police in the city of its birth — Los Angeles — have fought hard in the past few months to keep their cherished anti-drug abuse initiative off the chopping block.

     But in early May, the Los Angeles Police Commission voted unanimously to reassign a minimum of 35 DARE officers to other duties, effectively halting it, at least for now, at most middle and high schools throughout the city. The move was made by fiat after a go-round with police officials at a board meeting in April. The move will still leave DARE with 44 officers, but eventually, the police commission would like to see the number of sworn personnel involved in the program cut back to just six, with the slack picked up by civilians or retired officers...


Montana HP pact with tribe gets last-minute reprieve

     In an 11th-hour turnaround, a contract between the Montana Highway Patrol and the Blackfeet Tribe in Browning, which allows state officers to cite and arrest Indians for prosecution in tribal court, was extended in early May to run through Aug. 31.

     The decision by the tribal council reversed a unanimous vote less than a month earlier which had nullified the agreement amid accusations of racial bias. Council members said that highway patrol officers were overstepping their authority when they patrolled streets and housing areas, arresting tribal members at their homes on tribal warrants...


All there in black & white:

     KANSAS — Blacks in Wichita accounted for 20.7 percent of all traffic stops while making up 11.4 percent of the city’s population, according to an analysis of some 34,454 stops between January and July 2001. While acknowledging racial disparity within some routine law enforcement practices, the study, conducted by a Wichita State University professor, could not determine how much if any of the disparity

      INNESOTA — Of some 17,428 traffic stops made by Minneapolis police between January and March of this year, officers knew the driver’s race in advance just 10 percent of the time, according to an analysis by The Minneapolis Star Tribune released in May. The data were collected for a study being conducted by the state Legislature. While police have been filling out checklists noting the race of the driver, the reason for the stop, whether a search was conducted and, if so, its outcome, asking police whether they knew the driver’s race before making the stop is a new wrinkle.


Did profiling concerns hamper FBI?

     The FBI’s reluctance to be seen as a practitioner of racial profiling has had a chilling effect on its ability to investigate Middle Eastern men suspected of having links to terrorist organizations, both the bureau’s director and a chorus of federal lawmakers said recently.

      In testimony before Congressional committees investigating intelligence failures related to the Sept. 11 attacks, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said that he has seen “indications of concerns about taking certain actions” because they could be perceived as biased. A case in point, he noted, was the memo by a Phoenix-based agent urging an investigation of Arab men training in U.S. flight schools. Mueller said one agent expressed concerns that such action could be perceived as being bias-based...


A walk in the pork:
Canada pig farm holds clues to serial killings

     In a case of serial murder to rival that of the Green River Killer just across the border in Washington, Canadian authorities believe they have caught the man who has preyed for 20 years on prostitutes and female drug addicts living and working in the seedier reaches of Vancouver, British Columbia.

     Excavations began in February on 10 acres of property in Port Coquitlam belonging to Robert William Pickton, a 52-year-old pig farmer, who in May was charged with six counts of first-degree homicide. Investigators suspect him of having murdered 50 women in all. If so, it would make Pickton one of the most prolific serial killers to have struck in North America...


Clock is running out on NYPD’s ‘48-hour rule’

     New York City police officials may finally have the leverage they need to permanently eliminate the hotly disputed “48-hour rule” from contract negotiations with the rank-and-file.

     A decision handed down April 30 by the city’s Public Employment Relations Board concluded that the rule, which prohibits for two days the questioning of police suspected of misconduct, may not be subject to collective bargaining. The interrogation of officers, the board said, should be determined by the police commissioner.


To restore public confidence, Maine chief calls on DoJ unit
Portland takes step after string of excessive-force settlements

     Failing in his attempts to restore credibility to his department following a string of payouts to settle excessive-force cases, Portland, Maine, Police Chief Michael Chitwood has invited the Justice Department to review the agency and determine whether a pattern of civil rights abuses existed.

     The investigation, which got underway in May, is the first of its kind in New England. The department had been thrashed by the local media after losing one brutality case and settling two others, said Chitwood. One of those, involving an officer who hit a suspect in the head with the barrel of his gun, was settled for $600,000 — the largest sum ever paid out by the city...


Consular ID cards win growing favor

     Following the lead of a number of Southern and Western jurisdictions, the Los Angeles City Council on May 14 approved a six-month pilot program that will allow city agencies to accept identification cards issued by the Mexican consulate.

     Acceptance of the so-called “matricula consular,” or consular cards, will give Mexican immigrants greater access to government and help them with aspects of daily life such as opening a bank account, obtaining a library card, or proving they are of legal drinking age. The cards will only be issued to individuals with a birth certificate or other legitimate identification issued in Mexico...