Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXV, No. 522 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY November 30, 1999

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Smooth sailing; Pennington’s major honor; dogged pursuit in Miami; a belated tribute; entering the Neutral Zone.
Deep in the heart of taxes: The high price of pot possession
Fine-line rendering: Producing a better crime scene re-creation after a church massacre.
No thanks: Regional cops-in-schools grant has a detractor.
Opening the pipeline: Feds pour in millions to aid tribal justice.
Arresting dilemma: Tribal & municipal police try to work out a two-way arrest policy.
Trouble on the line: Misdialing spells trouble for Omaha 911 system.
Go east, young man: Drug mules discover a new overland route.
Lukewarm welcome: Chicago PD holds ex-housing cops to higher standards.
The home front: Residency rules rankle in St. Louis metro area.
LEN interview: Susan Herman, Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime.
Forum: Should police get all the credit for crime reductions?
Criminal Justice Library: How the NYPD fights crime; the consequences of police stress.
Quick change artist: New Dallas chief wastes no time shaking things up.

Officer: "I’ll see you in court." Civilian: "Not so fast."
California cops lose their right to sue for false civilian complaints

      Since 1982, California law enforcement officers have had the right to sue citizens who made false complaints against them — but no longer. In October, the state law extending that right was struck down by a Federal judge who found the statute to be a violation of First Amendment rights and a form of content-based discrimination that conferred privileges on a unique group of public officials without serving a compelling government interest.
      The ruling stems from a 1997 case involving Myron Gritchen, a Long Beach man who filed a complaint about the conduct of a police officer during a traffic stop. When the Police Department found the allegations to be untrue and the officer innocent of misconduct, the officer threatened to sue Gritchen. The constitutionality of the statute under which the suit would have been permitted was then challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California...

Chiefs say it again: A little preventive medicine goes a long way with kids

      Police officials have once again given their resounding endorsement to the notion that youth violence can be better prevented in the long run by investing money in after-school activities and other programs aimed at children, rather than by hiring more police officers, said more than two-thirds of police chiefs polled in October.
      The results of a new poll of police chiefs were released at the annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference by “Fight Crime: Invest in Kids,” a Washington-based nonprofit organization. Chiefs were asked to select their top priority among four youth-violence prevention measures...

Pilot project seeks to create a mosaic of troubled youth, one piece at a time

      Gang members and others who wear their discontent on their skins in the form of tattoos and other telltale signs are easy to pick out, but these days school officials are perhaps more concerned about the type of students who seem quiet enough but have the potential to erupt into the type of homicidal rage witnessed in April at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.
      To aid teachers and school administrators in spotting children who may be on the brink of violence and in weeding out actual threats from teen-age bombast, computer software currently used for risk assessment by some Government agencies and police departments is being tailored for use by the nation’s high schools. The software, Mosaic-2000, begins a national pilot program in December, with testing at more than 20 schools...

The taxman cometh:
Indiana’s high price of pot possession

      While a Henryville, Ind., man may have paid his debt to society when he served six months of house arrest and more than three years of probation for dealing marijuana, he apparently did not satisfy his obligation to the state’s Department of Revenue, which is now demanding some $800,000 in back taxes on the illicit drug.
      The agency is pressing its claim against David J. Sumpter and at least five others despite the fact that the Indiana Supreme Court in 1995 overturned the state’s drug-tax as unconstitutional. In Bryant v. State of Indiana, the court ruled that the tax constituted a criminal punishment that violated the U.S. Constitution’s protection against double jeopardy...

Ft. Worth church massacre opens door to high-tech crime scene re-creation

      When Federal and local investigators in Fort Worth, Texas, look at architectural blueprints of the Wedgewood Baptist Church, they are looking at much more than the position of the pews. The church was the site of a mass killing by a gunman who then took his own life, and the highly-detailed drawings, created with computerized surveying equipment, show the position of bodies, bullets and bomb fragments.
      Although the software has been used by the Fort Worth Police Department in the past to investigate serious traffic accidents that involved a fatality, it is the first time police have used it to recreate a crime scene, said Lieut. Rick Clark...

Raleigh says ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ to regional cops-in-schools grant

      Citing budget concerns and differing priorities, the Raleigh, N.C., Police Department in October opted to become the only police agency in Wake County not to apply for Federal funds that would have helped place sworn personnel in the area’s 22 middle schools.
      The request that all law enforcement agencies in the county apply for COPS in School grants from the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services came from the Wake Board of Education last year. The board said the officers were necessary to ensure a safe and secure environment. Moreover, the school system offered to pay half the cost...

Send in the cavalry:
Feds pour in millions to aid tribal justice

      Faced with an explosion in the number of crimes committed against Native Americans and on tribal lands, Federal grants totaling $89 million have been awarded to reservation police departments nationwide to increase the ranks of uniformed officers, enhance community policing efforts and sustain tribal courts.
      The money will be issued through the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, the Bureau of Justice Assistance and a number of other Federal agencies under the Indian Law Enforcement Improvement Initiative, which was created in response to a 1997 Presidential directive to the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Interior to develop a plan to improve public safety in Indian Country...

Don’t touch that dial! (Or think before you do.)

      Clumsy dialing is causing a major problem for the Omaha Police Department, whose 911 dispatchers have seen the proportion of hang-up calls and wrong numbers grow to nearly 10 percent since a 991 prefix was distributed to digital telephone service customers in March.
      Mark Conrey, the county’s 911 chief, said that what began as a nuisance has become a serious concern. Since the prefix was distributed by Cox Communications last spring, patrol officers have been sent to investigate about 500 more hang-up calls per month. The volume of such calls during that period has nearly doubled from the monthly average in 1998, to 6,739...

Tribal, municipal police haggle over arrest power

      The Fort Peck Tribal Council in Poplar, Mont., is negotiating with the state Attorney General’s office in the hopes of hammering out an agreement in January that would give tribal police the same authority to arrest non-Indians as city police and county sheriff’s deputies have over tribal members.
      At issue is the formalization of an agreement that has existed between tribal police and non-tribal law enforcement ,which the Tribal Council would like to see finally put on paper. In October, the council revoked the authority of non-Indian police to arrest or cite members of the Fort Peck Tribe, claiming that the cross-deputization agreement made during the 1980s was not equitable. The resolution was rescinded by the tribe on Nov. 19...

The shortest distance between 2 points
For drug mules, the latest route is overland on Interstate 20

      An unwholesome alliance between Mexican and Colombian drug rings has caused an overland route for trading in a variety of illegal and prescription drugs to be carved straight through the center of metropolitan Atlanta and other cities that fall along Interstate 20, which begins at the United States-Mexico border, according to law enforcement officials in the Southeast.
      Federal authorities contend that Mexican and Colombian drug bosses, after operating independently of each other for years, have developed a partnership over the past decade with Colombians using Mexican drivers to carry their products over the border and into the United States...

Chicago’s not-so-welcome mat:
Holding ex-housing cops to higher standards

      Officers from the Chicago Housing Authority police force, which was disbanded in October, have been told they are welcome to apply to the Chicago Police Department, but no exceptions will be made for them with regard to meeting the agency’s educational standard and other entrance requirements.
      The 270-officer housing police force was dissolved on Oct. 29, and while the union representing CHA officers would like to see a merger with the Chicago police, such a move is opposed by the city police department and its officers’ union...

Residency rules rile cops in greater St. Louis area

      In weighing the pros and cons of having law enforcement officers live within city and county limits, officials from a variety of southwest Illinois jurisdictions believe the public better served by police who can be on the job within minutes in an emergency and whose presence deters crime in their own backyard.
      At issue for the localities, which make up the Metro East part of the two-state Greater St. Louis area, is whether residency requirements really make a difference if police live a reasonable distance away. The question came up recently when the St. Louis Police Board challenged the practice of two city officers who have tried to establish residency for themselves within the city, while raising their families in St. Louis County. The officers contend that they cannot get the education required for their special-needs children in St. Louis. The case is likely to end up in court where the legality of the city’s residency police will be decided...

GNAT pesters illicit border crossers

      From the comfort of air-conditioned trailers, U.S. Border Patrol agents can scan the deserts of the Southwest for drug smugglers and illegal immigrants from Mexico, using a remote-controlled, unmanned surveillance plane as their eyes.
      The $1.3-million drone aircraft, dubbed the GNAT, is owned by the Air Force and is used by the Department of Defense for Joint Task Force 6, an anti-smuggling initiative based at Fort Bliss near El Paso. The craft has a camera on its nose that helps the ground-based pilot take off and land, said Dan Crogan of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., the San Diego firm that produced the GNAT...

A LEN interview with
Susan Herman, Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime
"Over the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of creative problem-solving [by police]. I don’t think, though, that we’re seeing a lot of real, genuine partnering, particularly where victims are concerned."

      At one time, crime victims were the primary beneficiaries of the criminal justice system. The system was about them. The victim hired an investigator, posted a reward and hired an attorney to file the charges and plead his case. Of course, those days ended after America’s Colonial period; with the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the interests of the victim gave way to that of the state. The role of the victim evolved from being a partner in the criminal justice system to being a witness and carrier of evidence.
      By the 1930s, the role of crime victims had so diminished that the Wickersham Commission, the Supreme Court and the American Bar Association all expressed grave concern that the system was out of balance. Despite those concerns, the system continued to become ever more focused on the defendant, culminating in the 1960s with an explosion of court rulings that reexamined and redefined defendants’ rights. It was only in the 1970’s, with the help of Federal funding, that the role of victims started to reemerge as participants in the criminal justice system. Their rights are now defined, and services are now more available to them than ever. Still, in the estimation of Susan Herman, who has been Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime since 1997, their rights and services are not often realized, largely because the victims are not properly informed and because of the disjointed nature of the services available...

It’s up to you, New York, New York...
A rare glimpse inside the NYPD’s success

      Many police departments, having adopted community policing philosophies, now report reductions in crime. Perhaps the city that gets the most attention for its efforts is New York. Given the sheer magnitude of the crime problems experienced in New York, any significant reduction in crime gets nationwide exposure. Clearly, the thought trickles down, to paraphrase the song, "If they can reduce crime there, they can reduce crime anywhere".
      With this in mind, Eli B. Silverman’s book provides a thoughtful history of recent changes in the New York Police Department and how they have adopted community policing precepts in that agency. The book is not intended to be a primer for all agencies but provides a great view of one agency’s experience...

Shedding light on ‘invisible consequences’

      It is a great irony that while everyday our newspapers and airways are filled with dramatic, wrenching accounts of victims and perpetrators of crime, virtually invisible and unheard of are the consequences suffered by the hundreds of thousands of American men and women who have dedicated themselves to public service and to preserving the law and order we all expect.
      Those consequences are substantial, as “Stress Management in Law Enforcement,” the new book from Leonard Territo and James D. Sewell, convincingly demonstrates...

Change agent:
New Dallas chief makes his mark - pronto

      Less than three months into his tenure, Dallas Police Chief Terrell Bolton is wasting no time in putting his imprint on the department, with a number of controversial moves that include the establishment of his new executive staff, the reassignment of patrol officers and the return to police headquarters the agency’s intelligence unit.
      Bolton, the city’s first African-American police chief, promoted 12 officers to deputy chief or assistant chief and demoted nine others from those ranks. The command shakeup surprised many city officials who nonetheless praised Bolton for the level of diversity the changes will bring to the agency’s upper management structure...