Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVI, No. 541 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY October 15, 2000

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: The real Worcester chief; from the frying pan to the fire; still too smart for policing; Riseling rising; now you see them, now you don’t.
Ripple on the gene pool: DNA testing flap threatens cases in Michigan.
To arms (or not to arms): Making the call on heavier weapons vs. non-lethal alternatives.
Digital stalemate: To get a grant for buying a computer, first the department needs a computer.
No free lunch: Florida city cracks down on longstanding police perks.
Long-term investment: Cops focus their efforts on kids.
Shakedown shakeup: Chicago cops get stung extorting immigrants.
Show me the money: Civil judgment could bankrupt neo-Nazi group.
Forum: The drug war’s terrible price; serious crime that’s not taken seriously.
Got change for a Buckeye? The Justice Department now has two Ohio departments under scrutiny.
Two-timing: Asset forfeiture may be double jeopardy, and New Mexico criminal justice officials are stymied.

How do you rate?
The secret to measuring a department’s “culture of integrity”

      By analyzing the responses of individual police officers to a series of hypothetical questions about integrity, the seriousness of certain acts of misconduct and the appropriate punishment for such transgressions, researchers believe they have found a quantitative method that allows law enforcement executives to assess their agency’s level of resistance to corruption and how it compares to other departments.
      The study, funded by the National Institute of Justice, surveyed some 3,235 officers from 30 police departments across the country. Asked to examine 11 common scenarios of police misconduct (see sidebar, Page 6), respondents found some types to be significantly less serious than others. Researchers also found that the more serious a transgression was perceived to be, the more willing officers were to report a colleague and to believe severe discipline appropriate...

Police are covering their assets, but school officials aren’t buying

      Although it has yet to be signed by Gov. Gray Davis, a bill calling for the reform of California’s asset-forfeiture laws has caught the interest of lawmakers in North Carolina, Kansas and Missouri, who are complaining that money they believe should be going to school districts is winding up with police agencies due to the circumvention of state laws.
      According to state Senator Frank Ballance, a Democrat from Warren, N.C., law enforcement officials are taking cases to federal court, where the rule is that 80 percent of assets seized from drug busts and other operations is returned to police. Under the state’s constitution, such proceeds would be going to local schools...

Detectives may be an endangered species for one Iowa department

      Although the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, City Council in September decided to await further study before taking action on a proposal calling for the structural reorganization of the local police department, law enforcement officials said they will still be moving forward with the portion of the plan that calls for the elimination of the agency’s detective rank.
      The proposal, which would reduce the number of ranked officers, is in keeping with the department’s community policing philosophy, said Public Safety Commissioner David Zahn, who presented it to the council...

DNA testing flap looms in Michigan
Company withholds data on procedures

      The refusal by a California company to disclose all information about the DNA testing kits it manufactures, which have been used to process evidence samples in hundreds of criminal cases in Michigan, could result in scores of appeals there should a challenge by defense attorneys in September prove successful.
      Although federal guidelines require that companies that produce the kits make public their procedures and how results are obtained, the firm, PE Biosystems of Foster City, is standing firm in its refusal to release information it claims is proprietary. The stance has led trial courts in California, Colorado and Vermont to exclude the company’s findings from court cases...

Making the call: Heavier arms or non-lethal alternatives?

      Although experts testifying before a Colorado review committee in September on the Columbine High School massacre recommended that police be more heavily armed when confronting the violence of a school shooting, two less-than-lethal alternatives proved their worth last month when police faced the more common dilemma of a mentally unstable person endangering himself and others.
      In Arizona, Gilbert police officers, with assistance from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department’s tactical unit, were able to end a four-hour standoff on Sept. 1 by firing a cork bullet at an armed man whom they believed had his 3-year-old son with him during the incident...

Catch-22: You need a computer to get one

      The Denmark, S.C., Police Department is caught in a classic Catch-22 situation — it cannot apply online for a local Law Enforcement Block Grant because it does not have a computer, and it cannot get a computer unless it can apply for the $16,481 grant, which would pay for buying new equipment.
      “We’re still stubby pencil here,” said Chief Joseph Jenkins...

No free (or discounted) lunch for Bradenton cops

      After the firing of an officer for taking food and other items from local merchants, the Bradenton, Fla., Police Department established a policy in September that prohibits sworn personnel from accepting any discounted meals offered by restaurant owners.
      The order came from Mayor Wayne Poston, who said he did not want any appearance of impropriety. An internal memo issued by Police Chief Dan Thorpe said, “The purpose of this directive is to establish a higher level of integrity and enhance the image of the Bradenton Police Department and its members.”..

Investments in crime prevention:
Protecting kids from the Internet & more

      Programs aimed at teaching youngsters the safe use of the Internet, curtailing truancy, helping juveniles deal with nascent drug and alcohol problems, and reducing school bullying have all been added to the roster of responsibilities assumed by state and local police departments in a number of locations this year.
      Trouble on line In Illinois, presentations by law enforcement agencies range from an activities book produced by the Mundelein Police Department and a specialized school curriculum which the State Police designed and will bring to schools early next year...

Shakedown shakeup: Sting nails cops extorting immigrants

      Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hilliard has stripped seven officers of their police powers pending an internal investigation into charges that they had lain in wait outside of taverns catering to Polish immigrants and demanded bribes during traffic stops.
      The seven, along with as many as five others, were captured on videotape during a two-year FBI sting operation prompted by a barrage of complaints to the Polish National Alliance...

The latest chapter — chapter 11:
White extremist group hit for a lot of green

      A jury in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, last month meted out a multimillion-dollar damage award against white supremacist Richard Butler and his Aryan Nations organization for negligence in training and supervising two security guards who assaulted a woman and her son two years ago.
      The award is seen as large enough to bankrupt the neo-Nazi organization...

With Columbus in court, Cleveland under scrutiny. . .
DoJ has its hands full with Ohio PDs

      While the Justice Department opened a probe of local police in one Ohio city last month, federal lawmakers are challenging a magistrate’s recommendation on what DoJ needs to win its civil-rights lawsuit against police in another.
      Earlier this year, 21 cases of alleged misconduct by Cleveland police officers were sent to the FBI with a request by Mayor Michael R. White that the agency investigate the police department for alleged organized racist activity. It is unclear whether those cases led to the civil rights probe launched by the Justice Department in September. However, no conclusive proof of organized racism was found by the bureau...

Asset-seizure could be double jeopardy

      New Mexico’s judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys are in a quandary over how to proceed with drug-dealing cases that involve forfeiture in accordance with a state supreme court ruling that said the seizure of assets in addition to a criminal conviction created double jeopardy.
      In State vs. Nunez last year, the court ordered in a 3-2 decision that criminal charges and civil forfeitures be dealt with in a “single bifurcated proceeding” as a way of satisfying the state’s constitutional requirements and not punishing someone twice for the same crime...