Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVI, No. 530 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY March 31, 2000

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Minetti’s not standing pat; leaving the FBI’s “front-row seat” in New York; obscene but not heard; cleaning house in Nassau.
Is it nice to be wanted? Celebrating 50 years of the FBI’s Top 10 list.
No problem: Report finds no evidence of organized racism in the Cleveland PD.
Root causes: Hairdressers get involved in spotting signs of domestic violence.
To tell the truth: How to deal with NYC cops who lie to investigators.
Turnaround: Philadelphia PD makes dramatic changes in the way it handles rapes.
$200M wedding: FBI, INS plan to merge fingerprint databases.
LEN interview: Stamford, Conn., Police Chief Dean Esserman.
Forum: Two views on racial profiling — what it is, what it isn’t, and how to get rid of it.
Calling a truce: Smith & Wesson breaks ranks with the gun industry in agreeing to terms with the Federal Government.
Calling for help: The 911 center in Memphis is awash in a sea of calls.
Something from nothing: A town with no police department wins a COPS grant to start one.
Disentanglement: Repercussions of a fatal hogtying incident in Utah.
Smooth flowing: A river runs through a proposed mutual-aid pact in Connecticut.

Who polices the police?
Overcoming the “rat” stigma in internal-affairs assignments

      In the image fueled by countless television police dramas, internal affairs divisions are peopled by self-hating cops whose incompetence on the street has led them to become veritable traitors with few if any friends on the force.
      While this perspective is somewhat at odds with reality, assignment to an IA unit still carries enough of a stigma that selecting such personnel is among the most critical, even problematic, decisions made by police executives. In some major-city departments, however, serving as an internal affairs investigator is increasingly viewed as a necessary stepping stone to career advancement and often provides benefits not usually available to those in other areas of policing...

Ft. Lauderdale learns a lesson from Miami in dealing with the homeless

      Police brass in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., seeking to avoid problems that befell neighboring Miami some years back, believe they have created a plan that not only deals sensibly with the city’s homeless population, but has prompted a change in the attitude of police officers toward those residents.
      Under a policy established last July, which specifically states that homelessness is not a crime, officers are encouraged to refer the homeless to social service agencies in lieu of making an arrest. In addition, the department is in the process of having its entire staff undergo a two-hour training session known as “Homelessness 101,” which explores the causes of homelessness and strategic responses to the problem, said Assistant Chief Robert Pusins, who oversees the initiative...

Seized pot in Maine may end up in hands of the sick

      In an effort to satisfy both the citizens of Maine, who voted last year in favor of a medical marijuana initiative, and the federal government, which still considers purchase of the substance a crime, state legislators have come up with a bill that borrows from the tale of Robin Hood — in this case, take from the criminals and give to the sick and needy.
      A proposal introduced this month by state Senator Anne M. Rand, a Portland Democrat, would create a registry system for patients whose doctors affirm that marijuana would alleviate their conditions. They would then be provided with pot that has been confiscated by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency...

FBI’s ‘Most Wanted’ still going strong after 50 years, 458 fugitives

      It was 50 years ago this month that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover saw the opportunity to take advantage of the public support generated by a news story about the “toughest guys” being sought by the bureau, and inaugurated the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list — arguably the most famous program the agency has ever had.
      Over the years, the list has captured the public’s imagination while leading to the capture of hundreds of wanted criminals, and in the process has served as a reflection of the changing priorities in law enforcement. During the 1940s and 1950s, car thieves and bank robbers were considered public enemies, then the violent war protesters of the 60s and 70s. Today’s most wanted fugitives are international terrorists, drug traffickers and organized crime figures...

Probe seeks but doesn’t find organized racism in Cleveland PD

      In a report released eight months after the launching of an exhaustive probe of the Cleveland Police Department, a team of internal affairs investigators has concluded that they found no evidence to support allegations of organized racism within the agency.
      The report on the inquiry ordered by Mayor Michael R. White represents the latest source of friction between the city’s 1,850-member police union and City Hall. White angered officers last August when he decided to allow marchers in a Ku Klux Klan rally to change into their hoods and sheets in the basement of police headquarters. Bob Beck, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association, told The Cleveland Plain Dealer at the time that White would never be forgiven. “He tried to link us symbolically with the Ku Klux Klan and their message by having them dress in our building and walking with them side by side to the podium,” said Beck ...

Hairdressers called on to help police get to the roots of domestic violence

      It’s been said that only a woman’s hairdresser knows for sure. Now, with an estimated three to four million women beaten in their homes each year, two fledgling programs in Connecticut and Nevada hope to take advantage of the bond that can develop between a woman and her hairdresser by training stylists to identify the signs of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
      Although just gaining currency now as more cities try to involve “paid friends,” such as hairdressers, bartenders and personal trainers, in their efforts to get abuse victims the help they need, the phenomenon has been studied since the 1970s. Emory L. Cowen, a psychologist, wrote in his 1979 article “Hairdressers as Caregivers” that the jobs of barbers, beauticians and cab drivers “bring them into contact with interpersonally distressed people.” ...

To tell the truth
NYPD, review board in tangle over lying cops

      Police officers who lie to investigators from New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board may have their cases referred not only to the Police Department, but to local and federal prosecutors as well, under a resolution approved overwhelmingly in March by the 13-member board.
      The 8-3 vote came one day after Police Commissioner Howard Safir told the CCRB that the department would no longer accept, as it has for the past 13 years, any complaints substantiated by the panel in which investigators concluded that officers had lied...

Trying harder:
Philly PD takes a different view of rapes

      When it comes to investigating rape charges, the Philadelphia Police Department has made a dramatic turnaround from 1998, when it classified as unfounded nearly one-fifth of all such complaints, to this year, when the number of arrests of alleged rapists jumped by nearly 80 percent.
      According to 1999 crime data released in March by Police Commissioner John F. Timoney, there were 934 reported rapes last year — a 24-percent increase compared with figures in 1998. Through March 2 of this year, rape reports surged another 14 percent over the same period in 1999...

INS, FBI plan a $200M wedding — of their fingerprint databases

      The fingerprint databases of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the FBI will be merged under a $200-million plan unveiled this month by the Justice Department, which suffered acute embarrassment last year when an alleged serial killer was released back to Mexico after Border Patrol agents found no computer record stating that he was wanted by both local law enforcement and the bureau.
      Under the proposal, the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) will act as the technological platform for the new database. It will be supplemented by the addition of the fingerprint files now in INS’s Ident database...

A LEN interview with
Police Chief Dean Esserman of Stamford, Conn.
“Bureaucracies are often the worst enemy of initiative and creativity, because all too often, people in the organization spend more of their energy trying to hold on to their jobs; they don’t do their jobs. ”

      LAW ENFORCEMENT NEWS: In January, you and the Stamford Police Department made national news when a position paper was issued, in the form of a “letter to the community,” that began with the words: “This City, and our Police Department, reject and will not accept any form of ‘racial profiling.’” What prompted this dramatic statement on one of the hottest issues in policing? Was it a response to a local situation, or more of an ounce of prevention?
      ESSERMAN: In fact, we were not responding to any event that occurred in Stamford, but that doesn’t mean we’re unaware of what’s going on around the country. When Connecticut was working on a bill in the Legislature all through 1999 that would require police departments in the state to keep statistics, we reached out to the community in the fall and started working together, because we wanted to do more than simply comply with the new state law that went into effect Jan. 1. Working together as a community — union and management, together with the NAACP, the Urban League, the Organization of 100 Black Men and ministers from the community — we developed this policy and this letter. I’m proud to say that union and management came together on this, and we are not speaking at the men and women of the Stamford Police Department, but in fact we are speaking for them and with them...

They’d rather switch than fight:
Smith & Wesson, Feds reach an uneasy truce

      Given the choice of “fight or switch,” Smith & Wesson, the nation’s largest gun manufacturer, chose to break ranks with the rest of the firearms industry this month and agree to a list of safety and sales concessions demanded by the Clinton Administration in exchange for immunity from pending and potential municipal, state and federal lawsuits.
      But in agreeing to the new measures, the company opened itself to financial pressure from others firearms manufacturers and dealers. The immediate fallout from the settlement was so fierce that officials in New York, Connecticut and Maryland launched antitrust investigations into the gun industry, and are seeking to protect Smith & Wesson by persuading law enforcement agencies across the country to purchase the company’s firearms...

Memphis 911 center may call for help in face of daunting volume of calls

      It has not reached the crisis stage yet, but the Memphis Police Communications Center may soon be dialing 911 itself for help in answering a call volume greatly expanded by the use of cellular phones, non-emergency calls and multiple reports from citizens about the same incident.
      In 1999, the center handled 90 percent of the 751,864 emergency calls made countywide to various law-enforcement agencies, said officials. During the past five years, that figure has risen from 551,527. And while the number of dispatched officers rose from 656,675 in 1994 to 883,336 — an increase of 34.5 percent — the number of call takers/dispatchers has remained at 110...

Starting from scratch:
A penny saved is a department earned

      After literally saving its pennies for the past three years in an effort to raise the necessary matching funds, the town of Autaugaville, Ala., in March was awarded a federal grant to start its own police department.
      The $85,000 grant Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services will run for three years and cover three-fourths of the cost of hiring two full-time officers, said Mayor Curtis Jackson. The last 25 percent will be picked up by the town. In 1997, the town approved a one-cent sales tax for the express purpose of being able to obtain the funding, he told Law Enforcement News...

Utah deputies cleared in fatal hogtying incident

      In hogtying a violent suspect who later died, Weber County, Utah, sheriff’s deputies were found to have broken no criminal laws, according to the findings last month of a panel of local prosecutors asked to review the incident.
      Basing their conclusion on witness accounts, medical records and two videotapes — one made by a witness and the other from the dashboard of a patrol car — Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson, Cache County Attorney Scott Wyant and Assistant Attorney General Craig Barlow stated in their Feb. 24 report that “the conduct of the deputies is not of the kind which would justify the filing of any criminal charges.”..

A river runs through plan for Connecticut mutual-aid pact

      Building on a proposal to share a marine patrol boat, officials from the Connecticut River valley towns of Chester and Deep River this month said they are considering a plan to expand cooperation along the river to include a mutual aid agreement for police services.
      Under the patrol proposal, the towns would split the cost of the boat, which would operate on weekends and holidays along the three miles of riverfront they share. The boat would also be available on holidays and for emergencies on the river. It would not require overtime expenses for the officers, or take police away from their patrol duties, said Adam Brown, a Chester resident and state trooper...