Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVIII, No. 585 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY October 15, 2002

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: The plot thickens; a man of action; chief’s birthday greetings; no glass ceiling in Albany; sources of concern; innovative, but nothing radical.
Off the hook: Federal safety agency clears Ford in Crown Vic crashes.
Not going postal: State police will no longer take crime stats through the mail — only Internet.
Up in smoke: Waco PD eases policy on applicants’ pot-use history.
The 411 on 311: Austin likes its nonemergency phone line.
Heading for the exits: Hartford cops see red over sensitivity training.
New look: Neighborhood watch group adds to its post-9/11 mission.
A third alternative: Court programs target mentally ill defendants.
Let us spray: Buffalo to change policy over pepper spray misuse.
Last roll call: 2001 was a deadly year for police chiefs.
Denver blackout: Groups still see red over edited intelligence files.
Forum: More school resource officers, fewer Nintendos.
Criminal Justice Library: Lessons from 400 years’ experience as police executives; why good cops go wrong.
Upcoming Events: Professional development opportunities.investigations.

Note to Readers:

The opinions expressed on the Forum page are those of the contributing writer or cartoonist, or of the original source newspaper, and do not represent an official position of Law Enforcement News.

Readers are invited to voice their opinions on topical issues, in the form of letters or full-length commentaries. Please send all materials to the editor.

 
 Forum

Benigni:
More SROs, fewer joysticks

     In the midst of the accountability movement, too many students are challenging themselves to meet Nintendo and Sega standards rather than school proficiency minimums. Earlier this year, following a grueling six-month campaign, I anxiously began my tenure as mayor of Meriden, Conn., a diverse community of about 58,000 residents located roughly halfway between New Haven and the state capital, Hartford. As a former teacher and current school administrator, it was no surprise to my constituents that education would be a top priority of my administration. Facing increased suspensions and expulsions in our schools, the need for disciplinary reform was apparent. Having recently completed my doctoral dissertation on the role of the school resource officer (SRO), having completed a week-long school resource officer certification class, and after having participated in the Governor’s Prevention Partnership Workshop on Alternatives to School Suspension and Expulsion, the light bulb flicked on!

     Federal and state governments, in response to increased pressure from concerned parents and educators, created new laws requiring school districts to issue mandatory suspensions and expulsions, and establishing barriers that make it difficult to find alternative disciplinary solutions. Federal law enacted in the mid-1990s mandated that school districts take specific disciplinary actions for weapons violations. In 1995, Connecticut legislators expanded the definition of a student possessing a deadly weapon. These changes have increased the number of suspensions and expulsions. In a related vein, in 2001, the Connecticut General Assembly adopted a new law designed to cut the dropout rates in our schools, changing the legal dropout age from 16 to 18. Students under the age of 18 now need the written consent of a parent or guardian to drop out of school. But what will all these statutory changes do to turn off the Nintendo and Sega video games at home and keep kids actively engaged in school...