Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXX, No. 624 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY October 2004

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
No (over)time for sergeants: How much are supervisors worth?
Last call: Tough countermeasures for officers’ off-duty drinking.
People & Places: Love is in the air; doing without; zapping the chief; head case; confronting a chief’s past; early exit.
Wives’ tale: Polygamist cops face loss of certification.
Garbage in, garbage out: Cities tackle “chronic nuisances.”
Improvement by decree: Court orders lifted for state police agencies.
Leaving the light on: LA squad tackles motel crime.
Thinking outside the box: Baltimore “CitiStat” hailed as innovation.
All in the family: Violent juveniles & their victims.
Hasta la vista: No licenses for illegal aliens.
Short Takes: Police news in easy-to-swallow capsule form.
As safe as ever: BJS says crime remains at 30-year low.
Forum: Police fatigue as an ethical issue.
Other Voices: Editorial views on criminal justice issues.
Upcoming Events: Professional development opportunities.

 
An alarming body count?
Questions surround data on police suicides

     One died after he crashed his car into a rock wall. Two others used firearms to end their lives. All were law enforcement officers, and all were apparently overwhelmed by circumstances that experts say are among the leading causes of suicide among police — a threat to one’s job, the end of a relationship, or a health crisis.

     No federal agency tracks the numbers annually, making the question of whether or not police suicide is increasing — as one organization claims —a matter of continuing debate. Still, departments are taking no chances. Many have either developed their own suicide prevention programs, often as part of a psychological services unit, or seek outside training — particularly after an incident....


Sergeants’ overtime is an issue

     Whoever is entitled to overtime pay should receive it, says St. Louis Police Chief Joe Mokwa, but just who that will be has drawn two U.S. senators, a labor lawyer, and the U.S. Department of Labor into a dispute between the department and its sergeants.

     At issue is the Bush administration’s new overtime pay law enacted in August. The changes are the first to be made in the Fair Labor Standards Act in more than 50 years and have been touted by officials as a means of eliminating the confusion surrounding who is entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay and who is not....


Tough countermeasures for off-duty drinking

     Heightened concerns about off-duty drinking by police officers have prompted two departments to take stern countermeasures, in one case reversing a decades-old policy requiring officers to have their weapons with them at all times, and in another, requiring officers to notify another law-enforcement agency in the event that they have a few after work.

     The change in weapons policy in Detroit last month was largely driven by a five-year federal consent decree that the city entered into in 2003, which required the department to reform its use-of-force and prisoner-care policies. As part of that, police are prohibited from carrying weapons “in situations where an officer’s performance may be impaired.”...


More isn’t merrier
Polygamist cops face loss of certification

     Calling the practice a “black eye” for law enforcement, the Utah POST council said last month that it would seek to decertify any Hildale officer — including the agency’s chief — who is found to be a polygamist.

     Hildale is home to thousands of fundamentalist Mormons who practice a version of the religion that includes polygamy among its tenets. An agreement with its sister city, Colorado City, Ariz., allows some members of the Hildale force to work in either jurisdiction. ...


Garbage in, garbage out:
Cities take aim at “chronic nuisances”

     When police are called out multiple times to the same location to deal with the same kind of offenses — such as prostitution, graffiti, gambling and other nuisances — landlords are going to foot the bill, under an ordinance recently adopted by Milwaukee County, Wis.

     The ordinance mirrors one passed in the city of Milwaukee in 2001. It would apply whenever there were more than three calls to the same property within a 30-day period and would cover such offenses as barking dogs, littering, prostitution and disorderly conduct. ...


Improvement by decree:
Court orders lifted for state police agencies

     State police agencies from two Southern states — Mississippi and Arkansas — were freed in September from hiring decrees instituted decades ago to integrate blacks and females into their ranks.

     The decree lifted by U.S. District Court Judge Walter J. Gex III on Sept. 21 had been issued nearly 33 years earlier, on Sept. 29, 1971. It required the Mississippi Highway Patrol to recruit an equal number of whites and African-Americans. Gex lifted the decree after a settlement was reached between the state’s Department of Public Safety and the Washington, D.C.-based Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law....


LA cops ‘leave the light on’ with special squad to tackle motel crime

     With violence at local motels on the rise, the Los Angeles Police Department has assigned a squad from the San Fernando Valley station to target crime at those locations.

     Nicknamed the Motel Six squad, the six-member unit has already been credited with making 100 felony and misdemeanor arrests within a seven-week period from August through the middle of September. It has been so successful that Police Chief William Bratton may expand the effort citywide....


CompStat for total-city management:
Baltimore’s ‘CitiStat’ lauded as innovation

     A computerized tracking system that applies law enforcement’s CompStat model to more than a dozen of Baltimore’s public agencies, including its police department, was honored last month as a winner of the Innovations in American Government Award.

     The CitiStat program was developed four years ago by then newly- elected Mayor Martin O’Malley. Just as CompStat holds police commanders accountable for crime in their precincts, CitiStat holds agency heads and system managers accountable for everything from garbage pickups to potholes to drug operations....


All in the family:
Who gets hurt when juveniles get violent?

     Parents and stepparents, especially those over the age of 30, accounted for a sizable proportion of the victims of simple and aggravated assaults committed by juveniles during 1997 and 1998, according to researchers at the National Center for Juvenile Justice.

     In their study, “Victims of Violent Juvenile Crime,” Carl McCurley and Howard N. Snyder analyzed data collected by the FBI for its National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Nearly all of the information — 98 percent — came from 11 states: Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia. ...


Schwarzenegger says “Hasta la vista, baby” to plan to issue licenses to illegal aliens

     Supporters of legislation that would have allowed California’s estimated 2 million illegal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license failed for a fourth time in late September when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill passed at the 11th hour by legislators.

     Citing national security, Schwarzenegger said in a brief veto message that he viewed protecting the safety of California’s citizens as one of his most important duties as governor. “Determining the true identity and history of an individual is a key component of that protection,” he said....


Short Takes

     Smaller law-enforcement agencies will now have the same online search capabilities as larger departments, with the help of a database that includes Social Security and vehicle identification numbers.

     Called SecureUSA, the database, compiled by the Omaha-based InfoUSA, lets investigators track down wireless phone numbers; driver’s license information and vehicle information from 31 states; aliases; relatives’ and associates’ names; and persons named as parties in civil lawsuits, The Omaha World-Herald reported in September....


BJS says crime remains at 30-year low

     While the downward trend in violent and property crimes finally showed signs of flattening out last year, the public remains as safe today as it was in 1973, according to a survey released in September by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

     In its annual National Crime Victimization Survey, the agency found no statistically significant change in per-capita crime rates between 2002 and 2003. The annual average did fall by 7 percent, however, from 2000 to 2001, it said....


Other Voices

     When justice works: Seeking a pardon, police chief sends a positive message

     What a wonderful example of all the best that police and others in the criminal system work to achieve when Lennie Hiltner recently received a pardon from the Nebraska Board of Pardons. Hiltner, who has worked for the past few years as Schuyler’s police chief, had committed several misdemeanors before he turned 21. He recently told The World-Herald that the positive influence of a Kearney police officer during that period was a key in leading him to turn his life around. So Hiltner enlisted in the Army, then became a police officer. Then, there he was last week, asking for a pardon to make a public statement that that old period in his life was really over. His new life was about honor, justice and maybe, hopefully, helping others as he had been helped. Bringing that past out for public discussion had to be painful for Hiltner. But what a statement, and what an example. Even “bad” kids have good qualities. But they need fair treatment, even-handed discipline and often a strong role model. Schuyler, and all of Nebraska, should be proud of Lennie Hiltner for providing that model....
— Omaha World Herald, Oct. 4, 2004



     

     What a wonderful example of all the best that police and others in the criminal system work to achieve when Lennie Hiltner recently received a pardon from the Nebraska Board of Pardons. Hiltner, who has worked for the past few years as Schuyler’s police chief, had committed several misdemeanors before he turned 21. He recently told The World-Herald that the positive influence of a Kearney police officer during that period was a key in leading him to turn his life around. So Hiltner enlisted in the Army, then became a police officer. Then, there he was last week, asking for a pardon to make a public statement that that old period in his life was really over. His new life was about honor, justice and maybe, hopefully, helping others as he had been helped. Bringing that past out for public discussion had to be painful for Hiltner. But what a statement, and what an example. Even “bad” kids have good qualities. But they need fair treatment, even-handed discipline and often a strong role model. Schuyler, and all of Nebraska, should be proud of Lennie Hiltner for providing that model....
— Omaha World Herald, Oct. 4, 2004


Upcoming Events

     NOVEMBER 5. Advanced Crime Analysis. Presented by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Everett, Wash.

     NOVEMBER 15. Less-Lethal Force Options: Selection & Policy Considerations. Presented by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. St. Peters, Mo....