Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVI, No. 539 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY September 15, 2000

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Living to serve; back to the local fray; taking the reins in Bridgeport crowd control pays off; Safir bows out.
Now you see ‘em, now you don’t: Comings & goings in policing.
Balance of power: Albany retools its police review board.
They wouldn’t DARE: Salt Lake City drops anti-drug program.
Gene pooling: California DA’s offer free DNA testing to inmates claiming innocence.
The wireless world: Tulsa upgrades MDT support network.
A ruse by any other name: Courts rule on arrest practices.
Split personality: Santa Fe looks to speed adoption of community policing.
Playing hardball: Baltimore-area task force targets wanted fugitives.
Shuffling the deck: Diversity issues force new look for Dayton PD.
The price of stupidity: Should a cop be fired over "a couple of hits"?
Ticket to freedom: The PocketCop liberates cops from the patrol car.
Forum: Two views on catching more criminals in the DNA web.
Investing in kids: How four departments are focusing on youth.
Bearing the brunt: Women still get the worst of domestic violence.

The new & improved UCR - is anyone paying attention?
Incident-based crime reporting has its true believers, but they’re only a minority of police agencies.

      For decades, the FBI’s Summary Uniform Crime Reporting program has provided law enforcement agencies and other end-users of criminal justice data with the number of violent and property crimes committed in a year, but precious little in the way of details regarding those totals. Then along came a highly touted new method for collecting, analyzing and disseminating crime data, the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which offers a wealth of information for police on each documented incident.
      That capability is both a blessing and curse to a program that to date has been adopted by only a fraction of the more than 16,000 state and local law enforcement agencies submitting data to the Justice Department. Whether it is the considerable cost of converting to a new data-collection system, or uneasiness with the amount of detail it provides in an open forum, NIBRS remains the province of just 2,700 small and mid-size departments, despite its introduction more than a decade ago...

In Arizona, practice catches up with policy on dishonest cops

      The practice of punishing sworn personnel who lie in the course of their duties is catching up with stated policy in many Arizona police agencies, as evidenced by a near doubling from 1995 to 1999 in the percentage of disciplinary cases involving dishonesty that were brought before the state’s Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board.
      During that four-year period, 188 officers statewide appeared before the POST board for acts of dishonesty ranging from lying to theft and fraud, with the proportion of all disciplinary cases growing from 22 percent in 1995 to 43 percent last year. Some 79 officers had their police certifications revoked, including 29 last year alone. An additional 15 served suspensions in 1999, according to the board...

Tired of losing applicants, Anchorage says recruit training can wait a while

      Fearful of losing qualified candidates to other agencies before enough could be found to fill an academy class, the Anchorage Police Department has decided to put to work those applicants who pass its entrance exam, interview and background check even before they undergo recruit training.
      The early-hiring program began about 18 months ago using funds from unfilled officer positions. Intense competition among law enforcement agencies in Alaska and a lack of applicants who could meet the department’s standard of integrity prompted the strategy, said Det. Tom Hume, who is in charge of conducting background checks...

Striking a balance of power:
Albany retools its police oversight board

      Legislation that will replace the Community/Police Relations Board in Albany, N.Y., with a panel intended to provide a measure of independent oversight into department investigations of civilian complaints was enacted in July after a compromise was reached by municipal officials, law enforcement and community leaders.
      The new Citizens’ Police Review Board was signed into law on July 27 by Mayor Jerry Jennings following its passage 10 days earlier by a 13-0 vote of the city’s Common Council. Four of the board’s nine members will be chosen by the mayor and the remainder by the council. While the board will not have its own subpoena power, it may ask the council to compel witness testimony and documents...

DARE officers protest Salt Lake City decision to drop anti-drug program

      Citing research asserting that the DARE anti-drug program is ineffective, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Andersen axed the program from the school district’s budget in June in favor of another anti-substance abuse curriculum already being used in other school districts in the state.
      The new program, Prevention Dimensions, is taught by teachers instead of police. The move will save the city $289,000 it has paid annually since 1988 to have police officers present the DARE curriculum to fifth graders. Anderson pulled the plug on DARE at the end of the school year, calling it a waste of money. National research, he said, showed that DARE either did not stop children from using drugs or increased their use of illicit substances...

Now you see them, now you don’t

      The summer was full of activity on the police employment front, as police chiefs, sheriffs and others left to pursue new jobs in the public or private sectors — or in some cases were asked to find other employment.
      Among those taking a new career path was Cleveland, Okla., Chief Dale Howard, who resigned July 22 from the post he had held for more than six years. A 23-year police veteran, Howard started on Aug. 1 as training officer with the Tulsa-based security firm of SPI Inc., which provides its services to defense and government contractors...

In jail but think you’re innocent? Calif. DA’s want your DNA

      Following the lead of the San Diego district attorney, prosecutors in a number of California jurisdictions say they will adopt the agency’s groundbreaking policy of offering free DNA testing to prison inmates who have consistently maintained their innocence and where there still exists biological evidence to prove or disprove their claims.
      San Diego prosecutors in June began focusing on 560 cases in which guilty verdicts were rendered prior to 1992, when genetic testing began there. While the new policy would largely apply to sexual assault cases, some homicides would also be covered, according to the D.A.’s office. So far, law students who are conducting the review have examined 40 cases, yielding one which meet the criteria, deputy district attorney George Clarke told The New York Times...

Tulsa cops go further afield with $5M MDT upgrade

      The Tulsa Police Department is still using mobile data terminals, but the creation of a $5-million plus wireless network has made the units far more mobile than they have ever been in the past.
      According to Chief Ron Palmer, the department’s network is the only one in the country that allows officers to communicate via four different means ¾ an 800 megahertz radio system, telephone lines, the department’s computer network and Cellular Digital Packet Data, or CDPD, which provides wireless coverage nationwide...

A ruse is a ruse is a ruse
Courts rule on arrests

      Rulings by state courts in California and New Mexico have put new limits on the lengths to which police can go to make arrests.
      Upholding a lower court’s decision, the state Court of Appeals in New Mexico ruled in July that police could not pose as maintenance workers, pizza delivery men or assume other guises to gain access to a home...

Santa Fe PD takes on split personality to speed implementation of C-OP

      Police officials in Santa Fe, N.M., split the city into two separate patrolling districts in July as part of an effort to adopt a community policing philosophy under a five-year plan that also calls for officers to do more crime prevention work on their beats.
      With 141 sworn personnel in a city of some 62,000, there were not enough officers to move directly into all of Santa Fe’s neighborhoods, said Deputy Chief Beverly Lennen. But a review of the department’s calls for service over the past few years found the number of calls in the southwest section of the city to have increased by a greater margin than anywhere else...

Baltimore area task force decides to play hardball with wanted fugitives

      A new regional task in Baltimore and surrounding counties has been created to take care of an old problem — the tens of thousands of fugitives whose capture until now has not been considered a high priority for the area’s law enforcement agencies.
      Last year, the Baltimore Police Department had just five city officers tracking people wanted on 54,000 crimes, including 260 for murder and attempted murder. The new Warrant Apprehension Task Force will be staffed with 75 sworn personnel from the Maryland State Police, FBI, U.S. Marshal’s Service and police departments in Howard, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties...

Diversity issue forces Dayton PD shuffle

      Minority hiring and the slow progress made in achieving diversity appeared to be at the crux of a recent reorganization of the Dayton, Ohio, Police Department that included the hiring of a public safety director to oversee the agency.
      In filling the long-dormant post, however, the city lost its police chief of five years, Ronald Lowe, who accepted an $88,000 buyout of his contract on Aug. 1. The appointment of a supervisor over him and the city’s fire chief was not his decision, Lowe told The Dayton Daily News. “The decision came out of the city’s manager’s office and you’ll have to ask her,” he said, referring to Valerie Lemmie...

Should a career go to pot over one dumb move?

      The Illinois State Police went to court in July to try and overturn a ruling by the agency’s own independent merit board which called for suspending rather than firing a sergeant who tested positive for marijuana use.
      Master Sgt. Mark Atchison, a 42-year-old department pilot from Pawnee, Ill., told the State Police Merit Board that he had smoked some pot with two family members during a party. “For some stupid reason — I don’t know whether it was to relieve their tension or it was total stupidity on my part — I actually took the joint and did a couple of hits,” he told the board at his hearing in July 1999...

PocketCop: An officer’s ticket to freedom from the patrol car?

      Just as the walkie-talkie freed police from the patrol-car radio, law enforcement agencies in Rolling Meadows, Ill., and Highland Park, Tex., believe that a new wireless device currently undergoing evaluation will eventually liberate officers from the mobile data terminal.
      The PocketCop, as the device is called, is a Palm VII computer specially adapted for law enforcement. The device enables officers to access their own state and federal databases, including the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), as well as their department’s own records. It can also be used to read e-mail, collect messages and run checks on stolen property, guns, cars and individuals — all while officers are away from their patrol vehicles...

Theme & variation:
Cops fight crime by investing in kids

      In some cities, it is the children who come to the police; in others, it is the police who visit them. In either case, throughout the country programs that aim at reinforcing community ties with law enforcement through interaction with youngsters are finding a measure of success.
      At a “boot camp” conducted with the help of the Knoxville Police Department in June, children in the East Knoxville section are taught such skills as listening, conflict resolution and trust-building. The camp, called Knox Kids and Lifesavers/Phillip Moore Outreach Center, is part of a coalition-building effort by the city’s Board of Parole and Probation, the police, nonprofit agencies and private businesses...

Sioux City youths get the picture

      If the Sioux City, Iowa high school students attending the local police department’s Youth Academy program in June were not interested in forensics before, a mock robbery and shooting staged for their benefit certainly made an impression.
      The six-week program, which had its first run this summer, teaches teenagers about traffic enforcement, investigations, radar and includes a simulated firearms practice session with the agency’s FATS III computerized system. The department plans to hold the academy twice annually...

Women still bear the brunt of domestic violence victimization

      While women experienced a lower rate of intimate partner violence in 1998 than they had during the previous five years, they continued to account for the overwhelming majority of victims in the more than 1 million cases of domestic homicide, rape, robbery and assault committed that year, according to a new report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
      Researchers found the level of violence against women to have dropped 21 percent from 1993 to 1998. In addition, the estimated number of violent crimes committed against them by domestic partners fell from 1.1 million in 1993 to 848,480. During that same period, the victimization rate decreased from 9.8 per 100,000 females to 7.5 per 100,000, the researchers found...