Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVI, No. 535 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY June 15, 2000

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Fact-finding in Northern Ireland; hello, Columbus; ins & outs in Butte; Largo-ing, going, gone.
Dodging the Feds: LAPD eyes sweeping reforms to keep the Justice Department at bay.
Enough cops? St. Louis tries to make better use of the police it has.
Follow the money: Was the disappearance of $100G from a Denver evidence room an inside job?
A closer look: Critics say the Detroit PD could do a better job of investigating officer-involved shootings.
Where’s the beef? KC urged to enhance its citizen complaint process; other agencies make changes.
Safety first: APBs get a high-tech upgrade in Minnesota.
Forum: What’s the LAPD’s problem? It’s the culture.
Get the lead out: New studies look at different juvenile-justice issues, including the lead-paint link.
Just the ticket: Rewarding kids who do the right thing.

Location, location, location
Geographic profiling helps police close in on serial criminals

      As Hannibal Lecter told FBI agent Clarice Starling in the novel, “The Silence of the Lambs,” we covet that which we see everyday.
      It may be an insight derived from a work of fiction, but it also happens to be the underlying theory for a sophisticated software program that has captured the attention of law enforcement authorities worldwide — geographic profiling, which posits that the “where” in serial offenses can be as telling to investigators as the presumed “why.”..

Arlington meets Arlington, in community-policing officer swap

      Apparently having more in common than just a name, the police departments of Arlington County, Va., and Arlington, Tex., swapped personnel this month in order to exchange ideas on how each agency implements its approach to community-oriented policing.
      The idea came to life when Arlington County Chief Edward Flynn and Arlington Chief Theron Bowman met at a conference on community policing and realized how alike their jurisdictions were. They are similar in size, with between 190,000 and 290,000 residents, said Flynn, and both border a major city or metropolitan area. Even more to the point, each agency is nationally accredited and has a college requirement...

Despite some gains, female cops still find too few cracks in the glass ceiling

      Few female officers ever ascend to the upper echelons of law enforcement, even within the Philadelphia Police Department, the agency that was found to have the most women in uniform out of some 126 agencies surveyed in a new report by the National Center for Women and Policing.
      According to the study, “Equality Denied, The Status of Women in Policing: 1999,” there has been just a half-percent increase in the percentage of female sworn personnel since 1998. Overall, the figure has risen just 5.3 percent since 1990, to account for 14.3 percent of officers nationwide. The number of women holding top ranking positions, the report said, is only 5.6 percent...

Keeping Justice at bay:
LAPD eyes reforms to avoid Fed lawsuit

      Los Angeles police and city officials agreed last month to widespread reforms in the wake of a devastating corruption scandal and the threat of a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice. The question now is whether those changes will be enforced under a consent decree or through a less binding memorandum of understanding.
      Negotiations between federal authorities and the city began on June 1 after the completion of a four-year investigation by the Justice Department, which uncovered a “pattern or practice” of civil rights violations, including false arrests, searches and seizures...

St. Louis tries to make better use of cops it has

      The president of the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners has reacted emphatically to recent published reports that budget problems are keeping the city’s Police Department from maintaining officer staffing levels, insisting that the department will avoid any significant cutback by taking a variety of steps, including reorganizing positions and duties to increase the department’s overall effectiveness.
      In a proposal presented to the Police Board on June 12, Col. Edward M. Roth, the board’s president, noted: “We feel a pinch because demands are made on the department staff, e.g., around our response to false alarms, the amount of warrant time and court standby time, the staffing we must maintain for regional special events details and venues, and out-of-service police time ferrying prisoners in our custody for claimed medical needs, much of which is feigned — which diverts substantial resources from our bread-and-butter law enforcement responsibilities and requires that we scramble to meet all the competing demands.”..

Denver PD wonders where the money went

      With no indication of a break-in at the Denver Police Department’s property room, police officials have ordered a criminal investigation into what appears to be an inside job in the theft of $100,000 in seized cash that had been accumulated from 11 separate cases over an eight-year period.
      The extent of the theft was discovered in April after interim Chief Gerry Whitman ordered some 70 command officers to conduct an extensive audit of the property room. In March, property-bureau clerks failed to locate $30,000 seized in two narcotics cases...

Unfriendly fire:
Detroit PD ripped over handling of shootings

      The Detroit Police Department’s homicide unit will continue to investigate officer-involved shootings, but it will now work in conjunction with internal affairs investigators, Mayor Dennis Archer said this month, ordering the policy shift after an analysis of FBI statistics revealed Detroit to be leading the nation’s large cities in deadly police shootings.
      Concerns were raised in May that not only were local police officers firing their weapons more often at civilians than were officers in other major cities, but investigations tended to be skewed in favor of confirming police accounts rather than determining the truth...

Where’s the beef?
Smoother complaint process urged in KC

      The Kansas City, Mo., Police Department’s citizen complaint process should be faster, easier and more inclusive, the city auditor’s office concluded recently after completing the fifth of seven planned reviews of the agency’s operations.
      The audit, which is currently undergoing review by the city’s Board of Police Commissioners, found that although the KCPD’s Internal Affairs Unit and Office of Civilian Complaints generally complied with policies and procedures, “both actual and perceived barriers” to the system may impair its credibility with the public...

Officer safety first, as Minnesota gives APBs a high-tech upgrade

      The all-points bulletin has gone high-tech in Minnesota, where an online upgrade last month of a national database used by police officers and dispatchers now links warning messages and other information to license plates, vehicle types or peoples’ names, making the information instantly accessible through a mobile dispatch terminal.
      Known as KOPS, for Keep Our Police Safe, the program is a component of the state’s Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS), a network that performs some 53 million transactions a year. It will work statewide, allowing police to know what type of alerts have gone out from one end of Minnesota to the other...

Getting the lead out:
Studies weigh facets of juvenile justice

      Early exposure to lead, in the form of paint chips or old paint dust, may have at least as much to do with criminal behavior in adolescents as other, more traditional predictors of delinquency, such as a troubled family life, according to one of several new research projects exploring the complexities of the juvenile crime issue.
      Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, who examined the lead content accumulated in the bones of 417 Allegheny County, Pa., adolescents, found that those 216 who had been pronounced delinquent by the courts were nearly twice as likely to have levels higher than youngsters in a comparison group. A much smaller sampling of girls were found to have even more significant accumulations of bone-lead...

Want fries with that?
Rewarding good deeds is just the ticket

      By offering tickets redeemable for a Coke and French fries to youngsters who play responsibly this summer, the Fremont, Neb., Police Department has put a whole new spin on the phrase “gotcha.”
      Officers who observe a such behavior as a youngster wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle, or helping another child cross the street, issue the do-gooder a ticket good at any of a number of local fast-food restaurants or video stores. Although implemented in 1999, the program works best in the warm weather when children can see the agency’s community policing officers on bike patrol, said Chief T.S. Mullen...