Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVII, No. 557 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY June 15/30, 2001

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Out of uniform; happy campers; within & without; back in the saddle; no excuses; comings & goings.
Going up? Surveys agree to disagree on latest direction in crime.
A more favorable profile: NJ calls for profiling summit, new policing institute.
Blue-ribbon findings: Ideas for improving the Providence police.
Buckling down: Boosting seat-belt use, especially among blacks.
The beat goes on: Across America, new developments on the racial profiling beat.
Two fields to tend: A sitting police chief is called on to monitor another department.
Out of steam? The militia movement is seen as a shell of its former self.
De-specializing: Community policing spells an end to public housing outreach units.
Forum: Don’t rush to judge police actions; the re-education of anti-truancy efforts.
Criminal Justice Library: Smoke & mirrors in policing.
Hurting the one you love: Intimates are more injurious than strangers.
Under a new microscope: Stepping up the scrutiny of the FBI.
Aftercare, not an afterthought: Rethinking juvenile justice.
A blind eye: London police ease enforcement of pot possession.

A legislative slap in the face
Is the Clinton/Conyers anti-profiling bill a misguided approach?

      Federal lawmakers have stepped into the fray over racial profiling with proposals from both the House and the Senate that mandate data collection and impose sanctions for police agencies and states that fail to act on their findings — an approach that faces fierce opposition from some leading law enforcement organizations.
      Under a bill called the End Racial Profiling Act of 2001, sponsored by Senators Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Hillary Clinton of New York, and by Representative John Conyers of Michigan, state and local police agencies would be required to maintain policies and procedures designed to eliminate the practice and collect data on “routine investigatory activities sufficient to determine if law enforcement agents are engaged in racial profiling…” ...

DC police officials roll out welcome mat for five-year monitoring effort by DoJ

      Unlike other cities which have accepted federal monitoring of local law enforcement only as a way of staving off litigation by the Justice Department, the District of Columbia last month welcomed government oversight that for the next five years will monitor excessive-force incidents by its Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
      “I would urge any police chief in the country to reach out and get the kind of [help] the Justice Department is capable of providing,” said Chief Charles H. Ramsey, who in 1998 took the unusual move of requesting a federal investigation. Less than a year into his tenure, a series by The Washington Post reported that D.C. police officers had shot and killed more people per resident during the 1990s, a total of 85, than any other major city in the nation...

Positive or negative, in (almost) any language, Portlanders can speak their minds about cops

      Prompted by concerns that new immigrants to the area may feel too intimidated to lodge a complaint — or even to offer praise — about an officer, the Portland, Me., Police Department has come out with a new instructional brochure available in 10 different languages, and a single form that residents can use to criticize, commend or simply inquire.
      For years, the city has been a haven for refugee resettlement, Police Chief Michael Chitwood told Law Enforcement News, with some 35 different languages spoken in the Portland public schools. The new brochure, which provides step-by-step instruction on how to file a complaint or a commendation, can be translated into French, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, and even some more exotic tongues, such as Amharic and Sourali, which are spoken by immigrants from Ethiopia and Somali. The city’s largest influxes of refugees right now are from Somalia and Sudan, said Chitwood...

Crime stat sources agree to disagree:
What comes down must go. . .up?

      After nearly a decade of dizzying declines in the nation’s crime rate, the figures finally appear to be stabilizing — or are they?
      Flying in the face of the latest FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, not to mention the insights of criminal justice experts, the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey this month reported a record decline of 15 percent in the number of violent crimes committed in 2000...

NJ seeks a more favorable profile

      In an effort to repair what he described as a rift between law enforcement and the state’s minority community, New Jersey acting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco signed an executive order last month directing the attorney general’s office to convene a statewide summit on racial profiling within 120 days and establish a policing institute at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Criminal Justice which will undertake as its first mission the exploration of “policing in a modern democratic society.”
      The Statewide Anti-Profiling Summit, to be held within 120 days from the date of diFrancesco’s order, will involve police, civil rights activists and community leaders in an examination of racial profiling and a review of efforts in this area being made by the State Police and the Office of State Police Affairs, among other agencies. DiFrancesco is expected to recommend a financial outlay of $500,000 to $700,000 for the effort, said Chuck Davis, a spokesman for Attorney General John J. Farmer...

Using the crosswalk

      A new data file, which will link the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report with data bases from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the Census Bureau, will enable researchers and statisticians to analyze crime and arrest data reported by nearly 20,000 law enforcement agencies in conjunction with other socio-demographic information, said BJS researchers in May.
      The file, called the Law Enforcement Agency Identifiers Crosswalk, was initially developed by BJS and the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data in order to facilitate the administration of two federal grant programs. The 1996 Local Law Enforcement Block Grant and the Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grant, said the report, are based on a formula that includes a three-year average of violent crime from the UCR...

Blue-ribbon blueprint:
Providence PD improvement plan unveiled

      A commission charged with finding ways to improve the Providence, R.I., Police Department has recommended the force be more diverse, better trained and educated, nationally accredited and under the oversight of a civilian review board.
      The 14-member Providence Blue Ribbon Commission was created in April 2000 by the City Council in the aftermath of the death on Jan. 28 of police Sgt. Cornel Young Jr. Young, 29, the son of the department’s highest-ranking black officer, was fatally shot by two white officers who mistook him for a suspect during a confrontation with an armed man in the parking lot of a restaurant...

Enforcing seat-belt use, while avoiding a racial-profiling tag

      State officials in South Carolina are waging an information campaign as well as a traffic enforcement initiative to get all residents, but particularly minorities, to buckle up.
      According to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, seat-belt use by blacks lags four percentage points lower than the national average, and car crashes are the leading cause of death for African American children through the age of 14. Accidents, according to NHTSA, are the second leading cause of death for black males between 15 and 24, and teens, although they travel fewer miles than their white counterparts, are more likely to die in a crash...

Racial profiling: Across America,

      CALIFORNIA — The California Highway Patrol imposed a six-month moratorium in June on consent searches while the agency reviews data collected on the race and ethnicity of drivers. The move follows a federal class-action suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, in which the organization contended that the highway patrol trains its officers to target minorities.
      The Los Angeles Police Department plans to launch a pilot program that will help determine the best way to track the race of persons stopped by officers. Twenty officers each at the Wilshire and Hollywood stations will be given special training in the use of different computer devices for the task, and a special paper form is being developed...

Two pastures to tend:
Police chief tapped as another agency’s monitor

      In a rare instance of a sitting police chief being appointed to oversee the reform of a troubled department — a department not his own — a federal judge this month named Stamford, Conn., Police Chief Dean Esserman as monitor for the police force in Wallkill, N.Y.
      The Wallkill Town Board agreed to a police monitor in February when it signed a consent decree to settle a federal civil rights complaint brought the month before by state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The attorney general alleged that the Wallkill police force had sexually harassed women and that board members had helped cover up the problem...

It’s the economy, stupid (and the Oklahoma City bombing):
Militia movement seen running out of gas

      After peaking in the mid-1990s, the nation’s militia movement has apparently run out of steam, according to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center released this month, which traces the movement’s demise to disgust over the Oklahoma City bombing and the stabilizing effect of a boom economy.
      Even in the western North Carolina mountains, a region described by the center just two years ago as a “magnet for many in the radical right,” anti-government activity has largely died out, the report said. The area drew national attention when federal agents began an ultimately unsuccessful search there for suspected abortion-clinic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph in 1998. Less than a dozen members of the Southeast Bomb Task Force remain stationed at a command post there, following up leads in the case...

Outreach units X’d out in the name of C-OP
Mass. town balks at incentive program

      As part of a plan to integrate community policing throughout the entire department, East Hartford, Conn., Police Chief Mark J. Sirois eliminated the agency’s outreach division in the city’s public housing projects in June
      The dozen or so officers in the unit were to join the patrol staff, where they will be able to spread their knowledge of community policing to the rest of the force, Sirois told The Hartford Courant. “I am incorporating community-oriented policing throughout all operations,” he said. “These things are permeating into patrol, which it never has. It’s a philosophy, not a program.”..

Criminal Justice Library

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain:
Smoke & mirrors in policing

      It has been said that the reason academic politics are so bitter is because the stakes are so trivial. Not so for crime rates, where statistics decide questions of such pith and moment as the arc of corporate, political or police careers.
      In writing “New York Murder Mystery,” Andrew Karmen, a professor of sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has weighed in with what must be the heftiest argument yet for coming up with more complex reasons for the crash of crime and violence in our society than can be found in the self-congratulatory posturings of mayors, police chiefs and even some presidents...

Hurting the one you love
Study finds intimates more injurious than strangers

      Intimate partners or family members are more likely to injure their victims during an attack than are strangers, according to a collaborative study released this month by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
      The study, which looked at data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) from 1992 through 1998, found that victims assaulted by intimates reported injuries in 48 percent of cases, and when victimized by relatives reported the assault in 32 percent of cases, compared with just 20 percent of cases when the assailant is a stranger...

A dressing down for the bureau:
FBI lapses lead to renewed scrutiny

      The FBI came under renewed and intensified scrutiny this month as U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft called for a wide-ranging review of the agency at the first in a series of hearings held by the Senate Judiciary Committee into the bureau’s managerial and investigative lapses.
      An unflattering picture of the FBI emerged during hours of testimony on June 20 from a panel of senior current and former federal officials. Long considered the “crown jewel of law enforcement agencies,” those who have worked with the FBI portrayed an arrogant, uncooperative agency unwilling to admit mistakes and in need of greater oversight...

Connecticut rethinks some juvenile justice

      Millions of dollars will be spent by the state of Connecticut in the next year to expand an initiative that connects youthful offenders with a host of government-sponsored and community-based programs at the very start of their placement in juvenile facilities, instead of waiting until their release.
      The effort is part of an intensive aftercare approach that has been catching on in such states as Colorado, Virginia and Nevada...

In a pilot test, London to ease pot enforcement

      Faced with an acute shortage of officers in the Brixton section of London, as well as a rise in the number of robberies and gun crimes there, British police authorities have decided to ease enforcement of cannabis possession laws under a pilot program in one of the city’s high-crime areas.
      The plan, proposed by local police commander Brian Paddick, has gained the support of British Home Secretary David Blunkett, who said in June that he is keeping an “open mind” on whether the experiment in one of London’s worst hot spots for drug dealing should be expanded across the country...