Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVII, No. 555 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY May 15, 2001

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Empty saddle in Jackson; lucky number; LA law, part 1 & 2; heroes’ welcome; museum pieces.
Super models: DoJ names 9 model sites for community policing approaches.
Freeh at last: FBI director heads for the exit.
Sounds of silence: Portland PD hears concerns of deaf residents.
Sign of the times: DARE officer uses her hands to reach the hearing-impaired.
Split decision: Supreme Court divides sharply on arrest powers.
Good in theory: Subsidizing cops to live on state land — a good idea gone bad?
Thumbs up: Pawnshop customers may have to leave a fingerprint.
Upping the ante: Paying bonuses to cops who recruit viable candidates.
The Pitts: Complaint-review panel in Pittsburgh isn’t measuring up.
New watchdog: Aggressive prosecutor will head review panel for LA sheriff.
Giving notice: Judge’s order can’t stop chief from issuing sex-offender alert.
Handoff: Special prosecutor gets case that sparked Cincinnati rioting.
Less than meets the eye: Casting doubt on eyewitness testimony.
Third time’s the charm? Black FBI agents win another round in court.
Forum: A new challenge for cops; leadership & the bond of trust.
Reasonable doubts: Oklahoma City lab work is under scrutiny.

Walking off into the sunset?
The days may be numbered for the COPS office

      Local law enforcement agencies that have long credited the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Service for providing hiring and technology grants to jump-start a variety of neighborhood-based initiatives are going to have to learn to get along without the program’s assistance, with the prospect of significant budget cuts that have been proposed for 2002.
      The $1.96-trillion budget proposal that President Bush presented to Congress on April 9 includes a 17-percent reduction in money for the COPS office. Funding would drop by nearly $200 million, or from $1.03 billion to $855 million. The cuts will not, however, affect any pending grants...

Increasingly, Illinois drivers are just saying ‘no’ to field sobriety tests

      The number of DUI arrests in Illinois increased by nearly one-fourth between 1997 and 2000, but the number of suspects who refused to take field sobriety tests rose by nearly three times that amount during the same period, according to some troubling statistics released this month by the State Police.
      DUI arrests in the state’s 102 counties increased by 24 percent during the three-year period, while the number of refusals to take field sobriety tests rose by 62 percent...

Licensing illegal aliens: a hot topic in Minnesota

      Minneapolis Police Chief Robert Olson can cite any number of sound reasons for allowing illegal immigrants in his city to obtain driver’s licenses. It is unlikely, however, that his rationale will convince the state’s Public Safety Commissioner, Charlie Weaver, who remains adamantly, though respectfully, opposed to the idea.
      The issue has been taken up by two faith-based organizations, which sponsored a rally in St. Paul this month. “Our position is that undocumented workers are a reality in this state, and to have potentially tens of thousands of people driving around with no license is a public safety issue for everyone involved,” Elizabeth Badillo-Moorman, co-chair of the group Isaiah, told The Associated Press...

School bells ring anew for hundreds of NYC officers

      Hundreds packed the auditorium at John Jay College of Criminal Justice this month for the first day of a two-course program aimed at giving roughly 600 New York City police officers the opportunity to launch or further their academic careers.
      Under the New York City Police Certificate program, officers may choose to take either one or both classes, earning up to six credits. The courses, “Policing in a Multicultural City” and “Supervision and Leadership in the Police Service,” are both tuition-free and will be taught two days a week, seven hours a day, for six weeks...

Community policing ‘models’ strut their stuff on DoJ’s runway

      They came, they saw, they were conquered.
      Justice Department officials who visited Rock Hill, S.C., in March were left with such a strong impression that they picked the city’s community policing program as one of nine model approaches to applying the concept...

Freeh at last
FBI chief to end bumpy 8-year tenure

      After an eight-year tenure bracketed by the aftermath of the standoff at Waco in 1993 and the disclosure last month that the FBI failed to turn over thousands of documents to the defense team for convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, the bureau’s Director, Louis J. Freeh, announced in May that he would be resigning.
      Freeh, 51, a former agent, prosecutor and federal judge, had told aides that he planned to step down after the elections in November but acceded to President Bush’s request that he stay through the transition. He surprised White House officials in May when he announced he would be resigning next month, two years short of completing his statutory 10-year term...

Sounds of silence:
PD hears deaf residents’ concerns

      The Portland, Maine, Police Department this month acted on concerns among members of the city’s deaf community by bringing in instructors from Gallaudet University, the nation’s preeminent college for the hearing-impaired, to explore with 160 officers the experience of not being able to hear.
      A new component of the agency’s annual training regimen, the deaf-culture awareness training included an “Unfair Hearing Test,” during which officers listened to a tape on which someone was speaking, but they could not make out the words. Also, they were taught simple sign language to use in emergency situations and other alternatives to voice communication...

Officer lets her hands do the talking
DARE program reaches the hearing-impaired

      City administrators in Council Bluffs, Iowa, may have eliminated the DARE program in district schools, but Police Officer Teena Schultz is confident that the curriculum she teaches in sign language to 13 hearing-impaired students at the Iowa School for the Deaf will remain intact.
      In the past the school has had a DARE officer who used an interpreter. Schultz is the first with the ability to sign — and apparently it makes all the difference...

High Court split on arrest powers

      Two decisions in April, one involving police authority to make full custodial arrests for minor infractions and the other restricting criminals’ right to challenge past convictions, have revealed a deeply divided U.S. Supreme Court.
      In Atwater v. City of Lago Vista, the Justices ruled 5-to-4 that although a Texas woman suffered “gratuitous humiliation” and “pointless indignity,” patrol officers did not violate her rights under the Fourth Amendment when they held her in a jail cell for not wearing a seat belt...

Cops living on state lands: a good idea that falls short?

      A program that allows deputies in Pasco County, Fla., to live on state preserve land and on school property has not been altogether successful, school officials say.
      “It started out as a good idea,” school Superintendent John Long told The Tampa Tribune. “But because of a few problems that began cropping up, it hasn’t worked out as well in some as we had hoped.”..

Thumbs up in Tennessee for bill to ’print pawn customers

      A bill that would require Tennessee’s pawnshops to thumbprint customers was approved this month by the state’s House Judiciary Committee, to the delight of municipal law enforcement agencies, which had been pushing for the legislation for the past several years.
      There was a “collective shout of joy,” Knoxville Police Chief Phil Keith said when the bill was resurrected in May. An earlier vote by the committee would have sidetracked the proposal for a year-long study. It reversed itself, however, at the urging of House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh (D.-Covington)...

Bonuses seek to turn cops into recruiters

      In an effort to add at least 20 officers to the city’s police department, Delray Beach, Fla., commissioners have unanimously approved a plan to give cash bonuses and additional vacation time to any member of the force who recruits a viable candidate.
      The agency, with an authorized strength of 156 officers, currently has a vacancy rate of nearly 12 percent, said City Manager David Harden. In April, city commissioners agreed to pay $300 at the time of hiring to any employee who recruits a new officer, and then another $700 when the recruit completes training. Officers will also get one additional personal day a year for five years...

OMI, oh my:
Pitt review panel fails to measure up

      The Pittsburgh Police Department is in full compliance with a federal consent decree, but the city agency charged with probing citizen complaints against officers is not, according to the findings of a court-appointed auditor.
      A quarterly review of the agency, the Office of Municipal Investigation, found that it took an average of 500 days to complete a police investigation, compared to the 290 days recorded in the previous audit. Also, the office’s error rate on closed cases was 12 percent. The consent decree requires that it be no more than 5 percent...

Aggressive fed prosecutor is LASO’s new watchdog

      Los Angeles County officials this month chose Michael Gennaco, a federal prosecutor, to head a newly formed board which will review internal investigations conducted by the Sheriff’s Department, as well as the agency’s practices and allegations of misconduct.
      The new Office of Independent Review, budgeted for $1.5 million dollar a year, is part of Sheriff Lee Baca’s long-term plan for overhauling his agency in the wake of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart scandal...

Judge’s order can’t stop sex-offender notification

      It would take more than a judge’s order to stop police in Maitland, Fla., from notifying residents about the juvenile sex offender who was about to move into the community.
      Circuit Judge Cynthia McKinnon had barred the state Department of Juvenile Justice from spreading the word about the 18-year-old offender, who was released late last year. But that ruling didn’t cover Maitland or its police, so Chief Ed Doyle had his officers begin distributing fliers that included the offender’s name, intended address and a description of the crimes that led to a term in a rehabilitation center...

Picking up the pieces:
Special prosecutor gets case that sparked Cincy riot

      Fearful that a conflict of interest could develop should city attorneys prosecute the Cincinnati police officer whose shooting of an unarmed black teenager last month sparked the worst rioting in the city since the 1960s, officials have said they would appoint a special prosecutor to handle the emotionally charged proceedings.
      Hours after Officer Stephen Roach, 27, filed a written plea of not guilty on May 9 to misdemeanor charges of negligent homicide and obstructing official business, City Council members voted to take the trial out of the hands of its in-house legal staff. “I think it’s in the best interest of all parties involved,” said Councilwoman Alicia Reese. “It’s not to say our solicitor’s office is incompetent in any way,” but the action is the “right message to send to our citizens today,” she told The Cleveland Plain Dealer...

There’s less than meets the eye with witness ID’s, NY court says

      Reversing a longstanding tradition, New York State’s highest court ruled unanimously this month that trial judges may allow into evidence the testimony of psychologists and other experts who challenge the reliability of eyewitness accounts.
      Newly appointed Judge Victoria A. Graffeo, who wrote the opinion for the Court of Appeals, left the decision to call such experts in the hands of judges, but said they must carefully consider whether such testimony will help jurors reach a decision. The court also rejected the notion that jurors do not need such assistance. Prior to the ruling, many lower-court judges automatically denied requests for such testimony, although they warned jurors about the possibility of mistakes by eyewitnesses...

Black FBI agents win again in bias suit

      For the third time in the past 10 years, the FBI and a group of African American agents who sued the bureau have agreed to a settlement that sets a new deadline for revision of the FBI’s personnel system.
      The agreement, which was approved this month by Judge Thomas Hogan of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, requires that new job evaluation, promotion and disciplinary procedures be in place by 2004. Agents will also be able to have some of their employment claims settled by an outside mediator. Those who are successful would be eligible for lost wages and up to $300,000 in damages...

Reasonable doubts:
OkC lab work under the microscope

      With the work of a veteran Oklahoma City police chemist under scrutiny by the FBI, state officials last month halted the scheduling of executions until investigators can re-examine physical evidence in felony cases where the chemist’s testimony played a major role in winning convictions.
      According to a report by federal investigators that was leaked to The Daily Oklahoman in April, the chemist, Joyce Gilchrist, misidentified hair and fiber samples linked to a suspect or victim in six of eight cases between 1981 and 1993, and gave testimony that “went beyond the acceptable limits of forensic science.”..