Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVI, No. 533,534 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY May 15/31, 2000

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
Ins & outs: Court’s new rule on traffic stops.
Play it again, Sam: IACP seeks reprise of ’65 landmark report.
Shot in the arm: New advocacy group helps push community policing.
Maine attraction: Pine Tree State’s allure for out-of-state sex offenders.
Turn of the cons: Sting takes down bogus telemarketing scam.
Dying trend: Number of slain cops hits an all-time low.
Avast, matey! Taking aim at drug-running speedboats.
Sending in reinforcements: National Guard gets the call against meth labs.
People & Places: A 6-year-old trips up the Miami PD; police force takes a walk; award-winning police leaders; changing times in Minnesota; doing it by the book; Baltimore tries a New York approach.
Getting their act together: Agencies network to fight on-line crime
Laptop detectives: Police agencies reach out to civilian “cybersleuths
Slamming a door: Supreme Court says “nuts” to Violence Against Women Act.
Forum: Blasting through the glass ceiling.
Comfort zone: Crime declines for record 8th straight year.
The cost of doing business: Mesa PD battles overtime overrun.
Not-so-deadly force: More departments explore non-lethal options.
With both barrels: NYPD blasts away at harshly critical Fed report.
Feeling frisky: Review panel rips NYPD over stop & frisk practices.

Big benefits, huge headaches
Keeping up with high-tech advances has some chiefs spinning their wheels

      When dealing with computer vendors, South Pasadena, Calif., Police Chief Michael Berkow says he keeps in mind five basic truths: It will always take longer. It will always cost more. Vendors will always say they can do it, when they can’t — and if they can, it will cost more money. When there is a problem, the software vendor blames the hardware, and the hardware vendor blames the software. And just when the technology is up and running, along comes something that makes the whole thing obsolete.
      Although Berkow said he delivered those guidelines in what he meant to be a tongue-and-cheek fashion at a recent Police Executive Research Forum seminar on law enforcement and technology, his litany struck a chord with many of the participants...

Coast to coast, good police recruits just keep getting harder to find

      A double-edged sword hangs over police departments: While some cannot attract enough applicants to make up rates of attrition that are expected to become significant over the next few years, others are seeing their officers jump ship for what they perceive to be a better working environment.
      Such is the case in the Washington, D.C., where Capitol Police officials say their sworn personnel are being lured away by the Metropolitan Police Department. In the past four months, 11 officers have moved to the MPD, said Lieut. Dan Nichols, a Capitol Police spokesman...

Drink, get drunk, fall down. No problem — or is it? Providence PD takes no chances.

      While maintaining that the Providence, R.I., Police Department does not have an issue with excessive drinking by officers during their off-duty hours, Public Safety Commissioner John J. Partington nevertheless has agreed to a proposal that would put more teeth into a regulation that some consider to be too vague.
      As it now stands, the rule regarding off-duty drinking states that an officer “shall not drink intoxicating beverages which shall render him unfit for immediate police action or to a point which may reflect adversely upon themselves or the Department. Furthermore, no member shall use intoxicants or drugs unlawfully administered.”..

One way or another, gone:
Supreme Court adds to the ins & outs of traffic stops

      Although the U.S. Supreme Court decided in a Maryland case three years ago that police can order everyone in a car during a routine traffic stop to step outside the vehicle, the Justices ruled this month, in an appeal stemming from a Florida case, that passengers cannot be told to remain in the car.
      The decision, handed down on May 15, sets no legal precedent outside of the state, but it leaves open the possibility that the Court may choose to readdress the issue in a future case...

If it’s broken, fix it:
IACP seeks reprise of ’65 President’s report

      Despite continuing record lows in the nation’s crime rate and a renewed emphasis on strengthening the bond between police and the communities they serve, the confidence the public once held in their law enforcement agencies has continued to erode — and the International Association of Chiefs of Police wants to know why.
      To that end, the organization has called for a national commission to study all aspects of the justice system and come up with recommendations for fixing whatever it deems to be broken. It has asked that both Presidential candidates, in fact, commit to issuing an executive order as early as possible within their term for the creation of such a panel...

New advocacy group to boost community policing

      In an effort to promote the concept of community policing and give recognition to law enforcement executives who have striven to implement the philosophy’s practices through the years, the American Association for the Advancement of Community-Oriented Policing was launched this month by a group that includes criminal justice theorists, academics and members of the policing community.
      According to Bonnie Bucqueroux, a spokeswoman for the organization, Triple A-Cop is a grass roots attempt to maintain community policing measures around the country. “Our concern is that federal programs may come and go, and they’re wonderful to have in place while they’re here,” she told Law Enforcement News, but the police community itself has to sustain this movement.”..

Maine attraction draws out-of-state pedophiles

      The state of Maine has plenty of appeal for people living elsewhere, from its mountains and woods to its seashore, from lobsters to L.L. Bean. For convicted pedophiles, the attraction may lie in a loophole in the state law that allows out-of-town sex offenders convicted before last September to live in Maine unregistered, according to officials there and in neighboring New Hampshire.
      “We first noticed it in the fall,” said Trooper Jill Rocky of the New Hampshire State Police, who manages the state’s 2,000-name sex offender registry. “There’s been quite a few leaving Portsmouth, Manchester and Rochester and moving to Maine,” she told The Associated Press...

Sheriff’s sting foils telemarketing scam aimed at Indy’s Hispanic businesses

      An attempt to defraud Hispanic business-owners in Indianapolis through a bogus telemarketing scheme that used the Fraternal Order of Police as bait was thwarted by a successful sting operation initiated by county law enforcement this month.
      Investigators from the Marion County Sheriff’s Department say that Paul Ayala, 35, and Daniel Marcano, 25, admitted to soliciting up to $600 from Hispanic businesses, which they picked up as cash donations. The pair’s ability to victimize the city’s growing Latino community was aided by Ayala’s ability to speak Spanish, according to court documents...

A dying trend:
Number of slain cops hits all-time low

      Better training, better weapons and better body armor — not a kinder, gentler attitude toward law enforcement — deserve the credit for the recent record decrease in line-of-duty deaths, say police organizations.
      Preliminary figures released this month by the FBI found that the number of police killed while on duty in 1999 was even lower than that documented in 1965, just two years after the Bureau first calculated the statistic nationally. Last year, 42 officers were killed in 39 incidents. Thirty-five years ago, that number was 53. And in 1963, the first year such figures were collected, 55 sworn personnel were slain in the line of duty...

Shots across the bow:
Coast Guard, Navy take aim at drug speedboats

      Outmaneuvered and outpaced by the “go-fast” boats drug traffickers favor in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific, the Coast Guard, under a joint initiative with the Navy, is now using firepower for the first time since Prohibition to disable smuggling vessels at sea.
      The policy change was announced late last year, and while there is debate on how effective a recourse eradicating supply is as opposed to reducing demand, there is little doubt that the Coast Guard-Navy effort has shown success...

Sending in the cavalry:
National Guard gets the call against meth labs

      With Pierce County accounting for some 40 percent of all methamphetamine labs found in Washington state, Gov. Gary Locke in May offered county officials the assistance of the National Guard until staff could be hired and trained to expand the county’s response capability.
      Under the plan, four Guard members would help the Sheriff’s department with investigations and surveillance. They would not be in uniform, carry weapons or make arrests. Two more members of the Guard would support the state Ecology Department, cleaning up meth labs...

Networking vs. on-line crime

      With more than half of local law enforcement agencies in Washington state estimated to be staffed by fewer than 10 sworn officers, Attorney General Christine Gregoire said last month that a partnership comprising federal, state and municipal personnel will be created so as to pool available resources to combat computer crime.
      The Computer Law Enforcement of Washington partnership, or CLEW, will target would-be child molesters on the Internet, on-line fraud involving the selling of non-existent items and hackers stealing credit-card numbers. “The little high-tech expertise we have is spread far too thin in our state,” said Gregoire. “CLEW is going to change all that.”..

Laptop detectives

      They have computers, and they know how to use them. What they don’t have are badges.
      Increasingly, many law enforcement agencies, lacking both manpower and expertise, are relying on civilian cybersleuths for help in cracking cases involving online child pornography, the release of devastating computer viruses and other crimes committed over the Internet...

Supreme Court slams a door in victims’ faces

      Striking down a provision of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act that gave victims of gender-motivated violence the right to sue their attackers in federal court, the Supreme Court this month held that Congress had stretched the limits of federalism in intervening in an area traditionally left to the states.
      The appeal in United States v. Morrison, No. 99-5, stemmed from a 1994 case involving a student from Virginia Polytechnic Institute who accused two varsity football players of raping her in a dormitory room. The plaintiff, Christy Bzronkala, withdrew from the college when she found it would not discipline her alleged attackers, Antonio Morrison and James Crawford. Neither man has ever been criminally charged...

Reno warns against complacency as crime drops for eighth straight year

      With the preliminary figures released this month from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports showing yet another decrease in violent and property crimes in all regions of the United States for 1999 — the eighth such decrease in a row — the nation has entered its longest uninterrupted period of crime decline on record, according to the Bureau.
      At the same time, Attorney General Janet Reno cautioned the law enforcement community not to become complacent. “Let’s try harder,” she urged. “We must redouble our efforts by providing alternatives to crime as well as tough enforcement.”..

If it’s not one thing, it’s another as Mesa PD battles overtime overrun

      A severe storm last September was not the only thing to buffet the Mesa, Ariz., Police Department over the past year. With two high-profile cases, Y2K preparations to make and staffing shortages to contend with, the agency this fiscal year is projected to overshoot its $3.6-million overtime budget by nearly half, or by $1.5 million.
      Much of the overrun was spent investigating the disappearance of 12-year-old Mikelle Biggs, who vanished in January 1999, and the murder and dismemberment of 60-year-old Ira Pomerantz, whose torso was found in January in a city trash bin. The agency also spent an estimated $180,000 on Y2K. Still more resources were eaten up by the devastating monsoon-like storm that pounded the city last year...

Not-so-deadly force:
Departments explore non-lethal options

      There are a variety of weapons in law enforcement’s non-lethal arsenal, and more and more agencies across the country are taking advantage of them as the weapons continue to prove their effectiveness in subduing violent suspects while maintaining officer safety.
      In San Diego County, officials agreed this month to purchase $500,000 worth of “less lethal” firearms that shoot pepper balls and beanbag pouches. Officials said they hope to make at least one pepper-ball or beanbag gun available to every deputy on each shift within the next two months...

Firing back with both barrels:
NYPD tears into harshly critical Fed report

      In a rebuttal more than twice as long as the 250-page report it contested, the New York City Police Department took issue this month with the findings of the United States Commission on Civil Rights regarding the agency’s policies and practices, particularly the panel’s contention that officers engage in racial profiling and its recommendation that a new mechanism be devised for the prosecution of police misconduct.
      Despite kudos for the efforts the NYPD has made in improving its relations with minority residents, the overall tone of the report is sharply critical of agency, according to draft version obtained by The New York Times...

Review panel rips NYPD on street stops

      Hard on the heels of a critical report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in April, a report by the New York City Civilian Review Board delivered similar findings that a disproportionate number of blacks and Hispanics are subjected to stop-and-frisk tactics by police, according to the NYPD’s own data.
      According to the CCRB report, African Americans, who make up 25.2 percent of the city’s population, accounted for 63.8 percent of those who complained about being stopped and searched on the street. Hispanics, who make up 24.4 percent of the population, accounted for 23 percent of the complaints; and whites, who account for 43.2 percent of population, made just 10.6 percent of complaints...