Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXV, No. 520 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY October 31, 1999

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
The element of surprise: Sting operations go after potentially abusive cops.
Who is that guy? Futuristic warrant names suspect by his DNA profile.
Heavy-handed: Black cops in Dallas say discipline is harder on them.
Anyone know what time it is? DC’s new rotating schedule has cops in a spin.
People & Places: Serious clowning; too smart; the NYPD shuffle; Delaware’s fresh Pepper; the write stuff.
Hand on the helm: NJSP finally gets its man — from the FBI.
The face is familiar: It’s also computer-generated.
This is no movie: Fallout widens from LAPD corruption scandal.
What’s your 20? FCC seeks new technology to pinpoint cellular 911 callers.
Music to their ears: How to punish noise-law violators.
LEN interview: Arlington County, Va., Police Chief Ed Flynn.
Taking a beating: Counseling for DV offenders may backfire.
Forum: The missing link in police professionalism.
Just say no: Columbus PD opts for court battle rather than DoJ consent decree.
Early-warning system: How Pittsburgh spots potentially troubled cops.
Upcoming Events: Opportunities for professional development.

Is anyone out there?
Competition for new recruits keeps getting fiercer

      Whether one blames the nation’s roaring economy, higher educational requirements or noncompetitive wages and benefits, police and sheriff’s departments in virtually every region of the country agree that the generous pool of applicants from which they once sought qualified candidates is becoming increasingly shallow.
      An apparently pervasive problem, it has become especially acute for agencies that require college credits...

Chief finds life under a consent decree can actually be a boon to the department

      Usually a last resort taken by municipalities as a hedge against a financially exhaustive Federal civil-rights lawsuit, consent decrees can strike fear in the hearts of city and police officials — and rightfully so, since the negotiated settlements have the potential to force changes that many law enforcement agencies are ill-prepared to make.
      But Police Chief Robert McNeilly Jr. of the Pittsburgh Police Bureau, an agency now two and a half years into a five-year agreement with the Department of Justice, has found himself able to make significant improvements in the department in a relatively short time, thanks to the backing provided by the consent decree...

The suspense is over — Albuquerque will get its $6.5M COPS grant after all

      After several tense months during which a $6.5-million Federal hiring grant to the Albuquerque Police Department seemed at risk, it was “all systems go” in September after Department of Justice officials satisfied themselves that the city did not plan to use the money to replace dozens of officer positions lost during fiscal belt-tightening earlier this year.
      At issue was whether the department was guilty of supplanting — that is, using grant money to pay for officers lost through attrition or budget cuts. The issue arose, said Police Chief Jerry Galvin, after city officials asked the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) if it could include 16 cadets from a class graduated in May under the Universal Hiring Program grant and still maintain its baseline strength of 849 full-time sworn officers...

Mixed reactions:
Stings seek to ferret out abusive NYC officers

      Potentially violent police officers are being weeded out by the New York City Police Department under a highly secretive program that tests their reaction to verbal provocation by using undercover personnel to pose as irate citizens in a series of elaborately constructed sting operations.
      Known as Force-Related Integrity Testing, police researchers believe it is the only initiative of its kind practiced by law enforcement agencies in the nation. Of the 600 sting operations the NYPD conducts each year to test the integrity of its officers, several dozen are devoted to evaluating the conduct of officers with a history of abuse complaints, police officials told The New York Times...

We’ll just call the suspect “Gene”:
Futuristic warrant ID’s rapist by his DNA

      Just weeks before a statute of limitations would have precluded criminal charges against a man believed to have raped and kidnapped three women at knifepoint in 1993, Milwaukee authorities last month became the first in the nation to use the highly unusual strategy of bringing a futuristic warrant against a John Doe suspect who is known only by his genetic profile.
      While legal experts believe the case to have merit, it is sure to be challenged, they say. At issue is whether a DNA code is a sufficient means of identifying a defendant in the absence of a name or a physical description as specified under Milwaukee law. An even broader point under scrutiny by some is whether the legal concept of a statute of limitations is even viable as DNA testing comes of age in the courtroom...

Does the heavy hand of discipline weigh heavier on black officers in Dallas?

      Dallas police officials say they have found no evidence that black officers accused of wrongdoing are disciplined any more harshly than their white colleagues, despite complaints from a minority officers’ group that have prompted an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
      The inquiry is the second probe to be launched in recent months by Federal civil-rights attorneys. In April, the Justice Department announced it would look into retaliation allegations by the vice president of the Texas Peace Officers Association, the same group that now charges the department with unfairly punishing minority officers...

Not everyone in DC policing is charged up over new “power shift” rotating schedule

      Police in Washington, D.C., are fuming over Chief Charles Ramsey’s creation of a new “power shift” that establishes a rotating schedule for 2,000 current patrol officers.
      The shift, which was due to begin Oct. 10, would run from 6 P.M. to 2 A.M. Officers will work days for 56 days, evenings for 56 days, and the new late-evening shift for 28 days. Those assigned to the midnight shift will not have to rotate...

NJSP finally gets its man
After months of waiting, ex-FBI boss is confirmed as head of troubled agency

      The New Jersey State Senate last month unanimously confirmed the appointment of FBI supervisor Carson Dunbar Jr. as the new Superintendent of the State Police, ending a seven-month quest by Gov. Christine Todd Whitman to find someone both willing to take on the troubled agency and acceptable to community leaders calling for an outsider to take the post and legislators who insisted it go to an agency insider.
      Dunbar, who was ushered in with a vote of 38-0 on Sept. 30, is the first African American to be named superintendent of the NJSP, as well as the first civilian. As a black man, resident of New Jersey, former state trooper and Federal law enforcement agent, stakeholders in the appointment found very little to object to in Dunbar. This was especially true in light of the arduous search that ensued after Whitman fired Col. Carl A. Williams as superintendent in February for making racially charged comments to the press. Williams has since filed a reverse-discrimination suit charging Whitman with dismissing him to make way for a black successor...

The face is familiar — and computer-generated

      With the development of new computer software that will allow detectives to create composite photos of offenders within minutes, police artists may soon be laying down their pencils.
      The CD-ROM program called “Faces, The Ultimate Composite Picture,” provides nearly 4,000 facial features that can be selected to create billions of faces. Developed by the Montreal-based Interquest, some 200 local, state and Federal law enforcement agencies in Washington will receive the $50 program courtesy of the Southland Corp., the parent company of the 7-Eleven chain...

CRASH, boom, bang:
Widespread fallout continues in LAPD scandal

      The ultimate fallout from what has been described as the worst corruption scandal to hit the Los Angeles Police Department in decades may not be realized for some time, but already more than a dozen officers have been fired or suspended in the past few weeks, and officials have undertaken a variety of other damage-control measures.
      In response to the scandal, two highly touted anti-gang injunctions have been halted, and Police Chief Bernard C. Parks has hit a brick wall with his plan to establish an internal board of inquiry to investigate the way the LAPD has handled officer-involved shootings, the supervision of troops and allegations of malfeasance...

911 operators may soon get help in pinpointing callers on the move

      Technology that would allow 911 operators to pinpoint to within several hundred feet the location of emergency callers using cellular telephones must be provided by wireless carriers within the next two years, under guidelines issued in September by Federal regulators.
      At issue is the inability of emergency dispatchers to automatically access a person’s location when a call comes in on a wireless phone — as do some 100,000 calls daily. “The ability of public service officials to get to people quickly really makes all the difference in certain cases,” said William Kennard, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission...

Punishment that’s music to the ears

      Under a new anti-noise law, officials in Battle Lake, Minn., are giving rowdy teen-agers a choice: a $25 fine or an hour’s worth of Lawrence Welk, the BeeGees or some other music that is anathema to juvenile sensibilities.
      Battle Lake, which is within 15 miles of nearly 500 lakes, sees its population swell in the summer from the 710 permanent residents to nearly 15,000 denizens on the 4th of July. Officials felt that something had to be done about noisy teen-age tourists, said Police Chief Joe Hjelmstead...

A LEN interview with
Police Chief Edward Flynn of Arlington County, Va.
"Just once before I retire, I would like to hear a representative of the NAACP or the Urban League say something nice about the police that was not followed by the word ‘but.’ "

      LAW ENFORCEMENT NEWS: After launching your career with the Jersey City Police Department, what was it like to go to Braintree and take the reins of a department for the first time?
      FLYNN: I remember it very well. It’s hard to explain how much I burned with the desire to do good. This was going to be my chance. It was an opportunity to have an effect on a police department and on a community, and to make a difference. I knew from having read Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for various promotional tests that you start out seeking security, and then you need affiliation and friendship, and ultimately you get to self-actualization, which was defined loosely as the full use of your powers. So who needed a pension, I thought. I’ll just leave that behind and go get self-actualized...

Building a better batterer
Short-term counseling seen backfiring for some DV offenders

      Although victims of domestic abuse often pin their hopes on counseling programs aimed at curbing their batterers’ violent behavior, many in the criminal justice and victim advocacy fields contend that such state-mandated intervention programs are backfiring, creating cagier and more aggressive offenders.
      Since the mid-1990s, both California and Ohio have offered treatment in lieu of jail time to those convicted of domestic abuse. But a study by sociologists at San Jose State University found that nearly half of 513 high-risk offenders enrolled in battering counseling programs in Santa Clara County over a 21-month period broke the rules of their probation by violating restraining orders, using drugs or committing another crime. One in 10, the study found, committed new domestic offenses while in counseling...

Columbus girds for a fight

      Rather than entering into a consent decree with the Justice Department, as have the cities of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Steubensville, Ohio, officials in Columbus, Ohio last month threw the gauntlet down in front of Federal officials, telling them that they will have to prove in court allegations that the city’s Police Department engaged in a pattern of abuses ranging from excessive force to improper search and seizure.
      Breaking new legal ground, Columbus is the first city in the nation to challenge such a Federal lawsuit. The six-page document, filed in U.S. District Court on Oct. 21, comes after completion of a 16-month investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division which reviewed some 300 complaints...

Pittsburgh goes back to the drawing board to create early-warning system

      Finding insurmountable difficulties with a computerized early-warning system designed to help supervisors identify troubled officers, the Pittsburgh Police Bureau in August replaced the program after just nine months with a new system that provides access to a database holding 18 different categories of information on individual officers.
      Known as the Performance Assessment Review System (PARS), the program collects data from the department’s records management system on those performance indicators required under the city’s consent decree, including officer involved shootings; criminal investigations; commendations; warrantless search and seizure, and disciplinary action, and presents it by way of statistical models such as bar graphs.