Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVII, Nos. 551 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY March 15, 2001

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Pulling his weight; diamond setting; return of the native; comic relief; back on top; Conway, his way.
Sounds of silence: Cell-phone towers create dead zones for police.
Get it in writing: The LAPD finally spells out misconduct penalties.
That’s why they call it ‘dope’: Study looks at long-term brain damage in meth users.
History lessons: Poring over old police blotters for clues to new violence.
Playing keep-away: Tracking system for violent offenders may be going off-line.
Doing the wave: Customs Service watches as stolen cars head south.
Piqua-boo: Scaring up an easy answer to a report-writing burden.
Good news, better news: An encouraging picture of police use of force.
Marked for identification: Maryland SP to ‘fingerprint’ handguns.
School daze: Nationwide, school violence keeps erupting.
Missing link? Study challenges the ‘Broken Windows’ thesis linking crime & disorder.
Getting out of hand: Big-city chiefs assess Mardi Gras violence.
Forum: Crime by the numbers; defending ‘Broken Windows.’
High-tech help: New Mexico police get a hand in tracking missing kids.

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Crime by the numbers — Compstat takes off

      Officer John Spence drives through Philadelphia’s 18th Police District, pointing out certain landmarks: This corner was recently the site of a shootout among drug dealers; over there is a notorious crack house. Down that street, an abandoned car recently yielded up the body of a man bound in duct tape and shot through the head.
      A few hours earlier, in a gymnasium at the city’s police academy, an assemblage of chiefs and district commanders had pondered another rendering of events in the 18th, projected onto a giant screen. Homicides and shootouts, rapes and robberies were reduced to dots on a street map grid, shifting and blinking as a computer technician clicked on her mouse...

‘Broken Windows’ vs. ‘A New Look’

      Before “Broken Windows” is thrown into the trash heap of failed ideas and policies as a result of Sampson and Raudenbush’s article “Systematic Social Observation of Neighborhoods: A New Look at Disorder in Urban Neighborhoods,” I would suggest that readers examine very closely the original article in the American Journal of Sociology. Not just the press releases or the summaries like “A New Look a Neighborhood Disorder,” in National Institute of Justice Journal (April 2000) — check the article itself.
      First, check the sampling. The observations that make up the main data base of the project, and are put forward as methodological advances, are measures of disorder videotaped from a sport utility vehicle cruising slowly down Chicago streets between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The idea that such an SUV would go unnoticed by street people like prostitutes and drug dealers and not influence their behavior defies experience and logic. For example, drug dealers hire kids to watch for unusual happenings in neighborhoods (e.g., police attempting to record their drug dealing behavior)...