Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVII, No. 553 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY April 15, 2001

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Getting ready to go; float plan; Steve loves Eleanor; fill chairs at Justice; new watchdog in Omaha; now you see them, now you don’t.
Common sense solution: Georgia police take problem-solving approach to illegal immigrant issue.
Standard-bearing: CALEA takes a stand on racial profiling.
Pay-as-you-go plan: Chronic nuisance calls to police may cost landlords.
Ill-gotten gains: Did city deceive its way into a federal block grant?
Making the punishment fit: Police disciplinary process is under fire after captain’s slap on the wrist.
Fired isn’t forever: Decertified cops may win reinstatement.
Who’s on the case? Which federal agency should get the case of alleged police abuse on tribal lands?
Under the microscope: Tulsa PD is under scrutiny by DoJ’s civil rights unit.
The next big crisis: Officials map strategies to fight OxyContin abuse.
Lacking in appeal: City won’t fight ruling that KO’d no-loitering zones.
Forum: English lessons for troubled American police forces.
The beat goes on: The racial profiling beat, that is.

Think before you draw
Ruling says excessive-force liability for police may apply to drawing your weapon

      California municipal officials are concerned that an opinion in March by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court, which found that police can be held liable for using excessive force for simply drawing their weapons, may inhibit officers from doing their duty and put themselves and civilians at risk.
      The 2-1 decision stems from a civil lawsuit, Robinson v. Solano County, in which a retired San Francisco police officer sued two sheriff’s deputies after they pointed their weapons at him during a 1995 dispute. The plaintiff, 64-year-old James F. Robinson, who is black, had shot a neighbor’s two dogs who had been attacking his livestock. Police responded to a report of a man with a gun on a public road. Robinson was handcuffed, placed inside a police car and then released when deputies determined he had broken no law...

Internet postings of officers’ vital stats blur the line between free speech & privacy

      A Mill Creek, Wash., man may have legally obtained the home addresses, phone numbers and even Social Security numbers of Kirkland police officers, but posting the information on the Internet crossed the line between First Amendment free-speech guarantees and the officers’ right to privacy, Kirkland attorneys argued this month when they went to court in an effort to shut down the Web site.
      City officials contend that the site poses a public-safety concern and could be used by people seeking retribution against police, not to mention the potential it poses for identity theft. It also damages the city’s contract with employees, making it harder for Kirkland to attract and retain sworn personnel, said City Manager David Ramose. “It’s an abuse of free speech,” he told The Associated Press. “There is no public purpose served here.”..

The “Don’t Show Me” State

      Missouri lawmakers this month passed legislation that will bar the state Department of Revenue from releasing the addresses of police officers or their immediate families.
      The law, named for Robert Stanze, a slain St. Louis police officer, will take effect this summer. Stanze, a seven-year veteran, was shot to death last Aug. 8 while arresting a man wanted in connection with the wounding of a Berkeley, Mo., officer the previous month...

Still No. 1: College repeats as top grad program in CJ policy

      John Jay College of Criminal Justice recently defended its title as the best of the nation’s graduate programs in public administration with a specialization in criminal justice policy, according to U.S. News & World Report, in its ranking of the best graduate schools in the country.
      The list, which is based on peer ratings, also included Harvard University, which was ranked second, followed by Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, the State University of New York at Albany, American University in Washington, D.C., and, rounding out the top five, the University of Maryland at College Park...

Albuquerque wakes up to realities of police fatigue

      Police are commonly rewarded for their levels of activity, not inactivity, which adds a touch of irony to the fact that efforts by the Albuquerque Police Department recently helped that city to win the title of the “Healthy Sleep Capital of the Nation.”
      In Albuquerque’s case, a series of initiatives to alleviate the problem of police officer fatigue won the recognition last month from the Washington, D.C.-based National Sleep Foundation...

Problem-solving born of common sense in Georgia

      There was no one particular day on which Chamblee, Ga., Police Chief R. Marc Johnson decided to adopt a new departmental philosophy. Yet in undertaking what he simply considered a common-sense approach to reducing the town’s burgeoning crime rate, he ended up with a near textbook example of a successful, problem-oriented policing strategy.
      During 1995 and 1996, crime in Chamblee rose by 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Among the most pressing issues in the town of 9,552 residents, just northeast of Atlanta, was the tremendous influx of illegal immigrants to the area. Groups of more than 100 would gather on street corners in residential neighborhoods waiting to be picked up for day labor, Johnson told Law Enforcement News...

CALEA takes stand on racial profiling

      With racial profiling continuing to assert itself as one of the most pressing issues in policing today, the prohibition of the practice was recently added to the list of more than 400 standards mandated by the Commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) for any department seeking its imprimatur.
      The profiling standard is one of three new provisions developed by CALEA during the past 10 months, said the commission’s executive director, Sylvester Daughtry. The other two address personnel early warning systems and employee assistance programs aimed at identifying and resolving problems that could lead to misconduct. The three standards are the first to be created by CALEA in several years...

Nuisance calls may hit landlords in the wallet

      One way of making landlords sit up and take notice of chronic police calls for disorderly conduct and other activities at their property is making them pay for it, say officials in Madison, Wis., who proposed such a law in March.
      Under a draft of the law by City Council president Dorothy Borchardt and Alderman Matt Sloan, after three nuisance calls in a month, police would notify the landlord about the future cost of enforcement. The property owner may appeal the notice or offer a strategy to stop the activity. If the calls for service persist, a sum calculated by the department would be added to the landlord’s next tax bill...

Ill-gotten gains?

      A block grant administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance is the subject of an internal investigation by officials in East St. Louis, Ill.
      The $490,721 was intended to help hire more officers for the city’s severely understaffed police department. The investigation was ordered to see if the application was deliberately falsified so the city could spend the money, which was wired into a municipal account...

How not to punish a captain for DUI:

      While critics have complained that the loss of 20 days’ vacation was not sufficient punishment for a high-ranking Philadelphia police official and the fellow officers who helped him cover up a 1998 drunken driving accident, Commissioner John Timoney countered last month that it was the best he could do under the city’s existing arbitration system.
      At the heart of the scandal were the department’s high-profile homicide chief, Capt. James Brady, and Capt. Joseph DiLacqua, who was a lieutenant at the time of the incident. According to a recounting of the accident in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Brady had smashed his car into a vehicle which police never found. He was still driving with an inflated air bag and crumpled front end when he was pulled over by a patrolman, and was slow to show his identification to the officer...

Decertification isn’t forever in Nebraska:
I’m fired? Says who?

      State law enforcement officials in Nebraska may seek to appeal a ruling last month by a district court judge who found unlawful the process through which law enforcement officers in the state are decertified, throwing into confusion the relationship between a criminal justice board and a committee for which it long assumed it had oversight.
      At issue is whether the rules and regulations promulgated under the state’s Administrative Procedures Act by the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, known informally as the Crime Commission, extended to the Police Standards Advisory Council (PSAC), one of the commission’s standing committees. Hall County District Judge James Livingston ruled on March 29 that they did not, thus making the PSAC a separate entity with the sole statutory authority to certify and decertify police...

Tribe alleges years of police abuse

      After suffering in virtual silence for 35 years, members of the Shoshone-Bannock tribe in Fort Hall, Idaho, stepped forward last month with allegations of long-term abuse at the hands of the reservation’s police force. Yet to be determined, however, is which federal agency, if any, will ultimately have jurisdiction when it comes to resolving the situation.
      The charges were brought to the attention of investigators, the media and the public by some 40 tribal members and an organization calling itself the Center for Human Rights and Indian Law, based in Colorado Springs, Colo. In all, 63 depositions have been collected alleging more than three decades of brutality directed at elderly, adult and juvenile residents of the reservation...

Tulsa PD under the microscope
DoJ civil rights unit launches inquiry, but future role may be curtailed

      The U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has launched an investigation of the Tulsa, Okla., Police Department, where 10 officers have been disciplined since January 2000 for using excessive force, or failing to report use of force, more frequently against blacks than whites.
      At the same time, Attorney General John Ashcroft has suggested that so-called “patterns and practices” federal investigations may soon become less common than they have been in recent years, as the Bush administration takes more of a hands-off approach to local police forces...

The next big drug crisis?
Gearing up to fight the OxyContin peril

      Amid fears that the prescription painkiller OxyContin is on its way to becoming the focus of the nation’s next drug crisis, state legislators, law enforcement agencies and federal officials have all taken action recently to prevent misuse of the drug at the hands of addicts while ensuring that those who need it, such as cancer and orthopedic patients, can still obtain it.
      In Virginia, federal and state law enforcement officials from Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Kentucky held a summit meeting to discuss the problem with representatives of Purdue Pharma, the Connecticut-based company that manufactures OxyContin. “Any time you have a drug that appears to be replacing other drugs on the street as the drug of choice, you can anticipate that it will spread unless action is taken,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark L. Early...

No appeal expected in Annapolis as drug loitering-free zones are KO’d

      With a majority of City Council members unwilling to pay for further lawsuits, it appears unlikely that the city of Annapolis, Md., will appeal a ruling by a federal judge last month that struck down an anti-loitering law aimed at curbing open-air drug markets.
      “I don’t think we should spend any more money in that direction,” said Alderman Joseph Sachs, a Republican from the Fourth Ward who was one of five who initially voted in favor of the ordinance during a council meeting in October 1999. “We have a judge who issued a ruling. If we are going to spend more money, we should spend more money trying to eradicate drugs, not fighting more lawsuits.”..

Police questioning of suspects widened

      Overturning a decision by a Texas appellate panel, the U.S. Supreme Court in April ruled that suspects charged in a crime can be questioned by police without the presence of their lawyers so long as the new interrogation does not touch on the original offense but on a crime closely related to it.
      The 5-to-4 ruling stopped just short of reversing the Court’s 1986 decision in Michigan v. Jackson, which held that suspects may not be questioned further once they invoke their right to counsel and all waivers of that right are invalid under those circumstances...

Around the nation, profiling beat goes on

      A 6-6 vote in Minnesota’s Senate Crime Prevention Committee last month killed a proposed statewide study of racial profiling. The plan had already been rejected in a House committee, and was opposed by Gov. Jesse Ventura and a number of Minnesota police officer associations. The committee did, however, approve outfitting all 2,000 police cars in the state with video cameras and requiring police to give motorists a card with their badge numbers and a toll-free phone number to lodge a complaint.
      The action taken in Minnesota was just one of a number of developments around the country this month as state and local officials continue to seek ways of preventing or eliminating racial profiling, or try to evaluate whether the problem does in fact exist in their communities...