Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVII, No. 563 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY October 15, 2001

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Mass. exodus; pitbull wanted; Bush’s man; St. Pete repeat; tops at COPS; executive Chambers.
Gimme some skin: Palm prints lend investigators a helping hand.
Bad harvest: Miami cops plant guns, reap troubles.
Anybody home? While the homeowner’s away, Largo cops are checking on the house.
A bear market: Storefront police stations are no wholesale success.
Now more than ever: E-911 systems, with their cell phone-tracking capability, are urgently needed, but the industry isn’t ready.
Bad news, worse news: Observers say an ongoing scandal in an upstate New York city is no surprise.
Youth shall be served: Greensboro first four police cadets are off to college.
Forum: When is racial profiling okay?
Six months down: The number of police deaths is up sharply in just the first half of this year — and that doesn’t include the World Trade Center death toll.
Revised forecast: Are Americans changing their tune on racial profiling?

Secret weapon against terrorism?
Chiefs say community policing is an ace in the hole

      Any remaining doubts about the efficacy of community policing should have been dispelled last month when such programs provided law enforcement not only with a vehicle for communicating a reassuring message to fearful residents, but a means for gathering information that may yet help further the federal investigation into the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
      According to a sampling of police chiefs canvassed by Law Enforcement News, community policing initiatives will not — and should not — be jettisoned as resources and priorities get shifted in the wake of the attacks on Sept. 11...

Study finds black-white gap in officers’ views on abuse of force

      Nearly half of the African American officers who participated in a recent study on abuse of authority believe police are more likely to respond with physical force when a suspect is either poor or black than when confronted in a similar situation by one who is white and middle-class.
      The finding was among the most striking in a report by the Police Foundation, which was released in August. The study’s authors also found that a substantial minority of officers believe the law does not allow them to use enough force to do their jobs, and that most officers agree that failure to report improper conduct by fellow officers is not unusual...

PD’s mega-buck budget surplus has some officials sharpening their knives

      Officials in the city of Kenner, La., are at odds over whether to maintain a hands-off policy toward a budget surplus of $6.8 million accumulated over the past few years by the local police department, or to redistribute those funds.
      Since 1997, the department has put away between $2 million and $3 million annually over and above a $14-million budget. Kenner pays its police one of the highest starting salaries in the state — $30,000 — and has a new $10.2-million police complex and jail. The department also plans to build a $300,000 horse stable for its mounted patrol...

Gimme some skin:
Palm prints lend a hand to investigators

      With its new capacity to compare palm prints, thanks to a $2.5-million data base that went online this summer, the San Francisco Police Department expects to take a serious bite out of crime, particularly property crimes.
      The SFPD is not the first law enforcement agency in the nation to develop a palm print data base, but it is the first major-city department to do so. Called the Palmprint AFIS, the data base contains 400,000 palm prints. “It takes a lot of computer horsepower to do this,” Jim Norris, the agency’s director of forensic services, told The San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s a big leap to go from…a fingerprint to a palm print”...

Miami PD learns that when you plant guns, you harvest bushels of trouble

      Federal prosecutors warned last month that despite the indictments of more than a dozen current and former members of the Miami Police Department, the circle of officers believed to be involved in a plot to cover up a number of questionable shootings over the past few years has not yet been closed.
      Eleven officers were taken into custody on Sept. 7. Of those, five had already been charged in March with conspiracy to obstruct justice; six more were charged in a superseding indictment that covered three additional shootings, and two retired officers pleaded guilty to conspiracy in exchange for serving no prison time...

House checks help insure domestic tranquility

      As a way of helping vacationing residents feel more secure, the Largo, Fla., Police Department initiated a new program last month that uses volunteers to monitor homes while their owners are away.
      The idea came from Chief Lester Aradi, who assumed command of the agency in February, said the department’s public information officer, Mac McMullen. Among the first things Aradi noticed about his new city, he said, was the high rate of residents on their way to or from vacation...

Internal study: Riverside’s storefront stations are no wholesale success

      Although hailed as a way of bringing law enforcement to the community, the Riverside, Calif., Police Department’s storefronts have been less than successful, according to an internal report that found them to be underused and frequently closed.
      There is a “level of diminishing returns” when it comes to storefronts, said Lieut. Pete Curzon, who prepared the study. The storefronts are more involved in “community relations than community policing,” he observed...

Now more than ever, E-911
Although industry lags, terror attacks give new impetus to tracking cell phone calls

      While the push has been ongoing to get wireless communications providers to implement an industry-wide tracking system for cellular phones, the need for such technology was given new urgency in the wake of the World Trade Center disaster last month, according to members of the public safety communications community.
      “The public safety agencies have been very active in making this push to get the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to get this implemented and certainly will continue that,” said Woody Glover, director of 911 programs and communications center operations for the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO)...

Upstate upheaval:
Schenectady’s bad news only gets worse

      The suspension in August of yet another member of the Schenectady, N.Y., Police Department — bringing to five the number of sworn personnel caught up in an ongoing federal corruption probe — is not surprising in an agency where pranks and boorish behavior have long been a problem, say observers.
      On Aug. 24, Patrolman William Marhafer, 30, was placed on indefinite administrative leave based on the advice of officers working with the FBI, said Mayor Albert P. Jurczynski. Six weeks later, in a development that added another harsh sidelight to the case, Marhafer shot himself to death in the police station’s locker room...

Greensboro gets ’em while they’re young

      The first four of what the Greensboro, N.C., Police Department hopes will be many more cadets to come entered college this summer under a unique partnership agreement between the agency and a number of local schools.
      Called SOAR, for Student Outreach and Recruiting, the three-year-old initiative allows teenagers to earn an associate’s degree tuition-free at Guilford Technical Community College, or at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University with $1,100 in tuition assistance. There are presently 14 high schoolers in the program...

Test of character:
In tough times, community policing shows its mettle

      “I guess in the more metropolitan cities, community policing could be impacted because of the resources,” he told LEN. “In New York City, for example, or Arlington, their focus is going to be on the tragedies in those cities and all the manpower is going to be taken away from those areas that are not mandated for patrol, security, and, if you can afford it, community policing. It’s a benefit that in this day and age will be difficult.”
      School resource officers under the community policing umbrella are going to be needed to deal with hate crimes, he said Portland has two mosques, one frequented by immigrants from the Middle East and the other by African immigrants. On the day after the attacks, police met with members of the Muslim community and religious leaders to assure them that they would be protected, said Chitwood...

Are Americans ready to buy into racial profiling?

      After years of enduring harsh criticism and suspicion from the public for alleged racial profiling practices, law enforcement in the aftermath of the World Trade Center disaster has suddenly found itself on the high road, as some who once considered the practice taboo are now eager for police to bend the rules when it comes to Middle Easterners.
      In a poll taken by The Los Angeles Times days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, 68 percent of those queried said they favored law enforcement “randomly stopping people who may fit the profile of suspected terrorists.” Polls taken by CNN/USA Today/Gallup found that 49 percent favored special identification cards for such people, and 32 percent supported “special surveillance” for them...