Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXV, No. 518 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY September 30, 1999

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
A watchdog with more teeth: Bigger role planned for NYPD review board.
Sample case: A-G’s panel says collecting DNA evidence from arrestees may be constitutional, but not yet practical.
Cut to the chase: PD fights order to reveal specifics of pursuit policy.
Who’s watching the watchers? U.S. Attorney forms unit to probe California PDs.
People & Places: Foody for thought; big day in Big D; body of evidence; Little Rock’s best; IACP history in the making.
Whodunnit: Did the Louima trial convict the wrong cop?
Keeping up: Phoenix-area police upgrade training & weapons to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.
Stolen glances: Mass. legislators scramble to punish high-tech voyeurs.
Forum: When it comes to jail management, Compstat’s a keeper.
Bad credit: Ex-chief says police take credit for crime reductions they have little to do with.
Kid stuff: Mini-academy gives NJ youths a close-up look at police.
Black, white & red-faced: NAPO invites white separatist to discuss racial profiling.
Upcoming Events: Opportunities for professional development.

This way to the swap meet
Police agencies seen feeding the used-gun market

     In the absence of a unified policy directing law enforcement agencies on how to dispose of confiscated guns and their own outdated weapons, anecdotal evidence suggests that a wave of “no-resale” policies is taking hold across the nation, initiated by individual police and sheriff’s departments concerned about weapons ending up back in the hands of criminals.
     While some departments have been destroying confiscated firearms for years, or reselling old service weapons only to others in law enforcement, the issue of gun-resale policy took on a heightened urgency in the aftermath of the attack last month on a Jewish community center in Los Angeles, which left one man dead and five wounded...

DARE chief raps ‘bogus research’ as new study questions anti-drug program’s long-term impact

     Ten years after participating in Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) classes as sixth-graders, nearly half of the teen-agers who took part in a recent study reported using marijuana at least once in the past year, and almost a third said they had used alcohol on a weekly basis during that time.
     The study, published last month by the American Psychological Association and conducted by researchers from the University of Kentucky, found that while DARE produced some initial changes in the attitudes held by children about drug use, the effects were not long-lasting. The findings are nearly identical to those of a 1996 study that followed the progress of some 2,000 students five years after participating in the DARE program...

Preventive medicine?
Study links crime decrease to 1973 abortion decision

     The U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1973 that legalized abortion has resulted in the unforeseen social benefit of depriving the nation of a group of young people whose parentage and circumstances of birth could have made them more likely to engage in criminal activity as they came of age during the 1990s, according to a study that has generated heated controversy in both the criminal justice and reproductive-rights arenas.
     The study’s authors, Dr. John J. Donohue 3d of Stanford Law School and Dr. Steven D. Levitt of the University of Chicago, posit that the precipitous drop in crime that began in 1992 — particularly in the murder rate — is in large part attributable to the 1973 Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling. The timing of the crime recession, they found, corresponded to the period when these children, had they not been aborted, would have reached the prime age for committing crimes of 18 through 24...

NYPD watchdog is due for a better bite, but critics take wait-and-see attitude

     An influx of both funding and seasoned investigators over the past two years has positioned New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board to take a more authoritative role in the investigation of police misconduct, according to police and city officials, who floated a proposal in August that would greatly reduce the role of police staff in such inquiries.
     Under the plan, the specifics of which have not yet been officially presented to the CCRB, the board’s findings in misconduct allegations would no longer be reinvestigated by the New York City Police Department. While there are approximately 100 municipalities in the country that have civilian panels, New York is one of the few cities where the process is duplicated by police, said Samuel Walker, a professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha who has studied the civilian review process...

Diving into the gene pool
A-G’s panel says DNA sampling is probably constitutional (but not yet practical)

     While the Justice Department is not yet completely sold on the idea of collecting DNA samples from all arrestees charged with a crime, advocates for such a plan are one step closer to realizing their goal when the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence concluded that it would probably be permissible under the Constitution to obtain genetic evidence.
     According to a draft report of the commission’s findings, released in July, DNA data bases that are “highly secure” and provide minimally invasive procedures for collecting samples would likely pass Federal court scrutiny. If the findings are approved by the full 22-member panel, they will be used by Attorney General Janet Reno to set Justice Department policy and non-binding guidelines for law enforcement...

The paper chase:
PD will fight order to reveal pursuit-policy details

     The Orange, Conn., Police Department is fighting a state Freedom of Information Commission’s order to disclose specifics of its pursuit policy, claiming that the report’s release could put officers at risk.
     Details of the policy were sought by The New Haven Register after a motorist being pursued by Orange police crashed into a tree in the neighboring town of Woodbridge and died. Orange police were cleared of any wrongdoing after a three-month investigation, which found that the victim had taken heroin and was speeding...

New set of eyes to watch LAPD & scores of other Calif. departments

     Following an officer-involved shooting that took the life of a homeless black woman in May, another layer of oversight — a Federal task force — is being applied to the Los Angeles Police Department, with wide-ranging repercussions for California law enforcement.
     The new Civil Rights Section created by the U.S. Attorney’s Office the Central District of California would have the authority to investigate and prosecute alleged civil rights violations by the scores of law enforcement agencies in a jurisdiction covering seven counties: Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Riverside, where the shooting of a black teen-ager last year also played a role in the creation of the task force...

History in the making?
IACP may soon have its first female VP

     At this point in her career, Mary Ann Viverette may think of herself as just another police chief, but the head of the Gaithersburg, Md., Police Department will face the gender issue again this year as first woman to run for sixth vice president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
     Viverette, who has been a chief for 13 years, could eventually become the 107- year-old organization’s first female president if her campaign is successful. “It is important for women to be seen in positions that can affect leadership of associations like this,” Viverette told Law Enforcement News. “This is the oldest and largest chiefs’ association in the world. To be on the board of officers is a very significant and prominent position...

New whodunnit in Louima case

     A rare set of circumstances for both defense attorneys and prosecutors has been created by a written account detailing the 1997 torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima, in which disgraced former New York City police officer Justin Volpe exonerates convicted Officer Charles Schwarz in the incident and names as his accomplice an officer who had been acquitted.
     While Volpe had previously tried to exonerate Schwarz during his trial, telling prosecutors that they had the wrong man, the account filed with Federal authorities in August is the first direct statement the former officer has made to them. Volpe’s attorney, Marvyn Kornberg, would not say to whom Volpe had given his statement, but those involved in the case believe it was Federal probation officers preparing a pre-sentencing report. Both Volpe, who interrupted his trial to plead guilty on May 25 to the attack on Louima, and Schwarz, face possible sentences of life in prison.

Phoenix-area cops don’t take being outgunned lightly

     In an effort to stay one step ahead of the bad guys, law enforcement agencies in the Maricopa County, Ariz., area are undertaking a series of upgrades in training, weapons and protective gear to better safeguard their sworn personnel.
     Following the line-of-duty death in March of Marc Atkinson, a 28-year-old Phoenix police officer who was fatally shot during an ambush by a drug dealer, the department made a return to two-officer cars during its second shift patrol — a move applauded by officers. “I think it’s an excellent idea, two in every car; but they should do it for the first, second and third shifts,” said Officer Richard Hejna, a 15-year veteran...

Jeepers creepers — there’s no law gainst peepers!

      As technology continues to provide tools that make it possible for voyeurs to peep at a discreet distance from both their victims and the law, Massachusetts legislators are considering a bill that would make spying on others with video cameras and other devices a crime punishable by jail time.
     In July, Cambridge, Mass., police charged a computer installer, Robert E. Higgins Jr., with using a high-tech camera to peep on dozens of women in the neighborhood of Cambridgeport while they were changing or showering. More than the crime itself, what outraged residents of the community was that Higgins was let go on personal recognizance since peeping is not a crime in the state. He was charged with two misdemeanors, trespassing and resisting arrest.

Ex-chief says demographics, not police efforts, drive crime

      Anthony V. Bouza, the outspoken former police chief of Minneapolis, says that years ago he had reached a conclusion similar to that drawn by the authors of “Legalized Abortion and Crime”: namely, that the increase in selective abortion brought about by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was having a greater impact on crime rates than were policing efforts.
      American police chiefs are taking credit for a crime reduction that they have had little to do with, asserts Bouza who ran the department during the 1980s and “failed miserably,” in his words, to stanch a rising tide of violence and criminality...

Policing is kid stuff in NJ

      For one week this summer, youngsters in Middlesex Borough, N.J., learned the fine art of fingerprinting, crime scene investigation and water rescue along with other law enforcement skills at the Police Department Mini-Academy — a kind of policing Little League for area children.
      The program was established in the summer of 1998 so that youngsters could get to know officers and avoid trouble with the law, said Lieut. Kevin Reilly. It may seem a little demanding, he acknowledged — there’s plenty of saluting, addressing superiors as “Sir” and physical training — but the kids seem to enjoy it...

The white stuff: NAPO rocked by extremist

      Attendees at last month’s annual conference of the National Association of Police Organizations annual conference were rocked by the views espoused by a white separatist who was invited unwittingly by the group’s executive director to debate the racial profiling issue opposite a civil liberties attorney.
      The speaker, Jared Taylor, told NAPO members at the Denver gathering that police were justified in using racial profiling to make car stops because Federal statistics show a higher percentage of blacks committing violent crimes than whites. Police, he said, would be ignoring common sense if they did not take that into consideration.