Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVIII, No. 571 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY February 14, 2002

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: On the job at last; go East, young man; life’s a beach; seeking a chief who’ll stick around; home grown exec; Hernando’s “people person.”
Pointing fingers: NWho’s to blame for drug-case problems in Baltimore?
Quality counts: A timely new look at the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Picking up the tab: Local agencies get stuck with most of the U.S. criminal justice bill.
Think again: A closer look at crime undoes a city’s notions of hot spots.
Court ruling is a mother: CWhat to do when a suspect says he wants his mommy.
What’s in a name? Sheriff insists productivity guidelines are not a quota.
Keeping up appearances: Michigan senator wants to get tough with police impersonators.
Try, try again: Austin police recruits have trouble passing the Texas police test.
That Was Then: A look back at events of this month 25 years ago in LEN.
Forum: The state & local role in domestic defense.
Learning to share: New NYS public-security office sets its sights on information-sharing.

Who are those guys?
After 9/11, flood of background-check requests swamps police

      Private security firms and public-sector agencies that provide background checks are speaking nearly as one in using the word “swamped” to describe the tremendous surge in demand by companies for information about potential employees in the wake of last September’s terrorist attacks.

      “People have Sept. 11 on their minds,” said Joe Lopez, operations manager for Intertex Barrier & Booth Inc., one of the 700 firms that participated in the American Society for Industrial Security’s (ASIS) annual Seminar & Exhibit in October. “It’s changed their thought processes. Where last year they would put off buying a security system, they’re willing to spend a few extra bucks if they can improve the safety of their facility...”

Ending a downward trend, DWI deaths rise, prompting questions of “why?”

      Is it an anomaly, the result of public complacency, or the unintended consequence of new racial-profiling protocols? The 4-percent increase in 2000 of alcohol-related traffic fatalities — the first rise in 13 years — has law enforcement, government agencies and anti-drunk driving advocates scratching their heads.

      According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, overall highway deaths rose from 41,717 in 1999 to 41,812 the following year. Forty percent of those, or 16,653, involved alcohol, as compared to 38 percent, or 15,976, in 1999. Drinking was believed by NHTSA to have been involved in 8 percent of all crashes, fatal or otherwise, in 2000...

To stay one step ahead of the law, D.C. prostitutes try going mobile

      Even the world’s oldest profession can use a little innovation sometimes, as law enforcement in the nation’s capital have found out lately.

      Instead of streetwalking, prostitutes in Washington, D.C., have taken to driving around in their own vehicles and waiting to be called over by customers. Zero-tolerance crackdowns during the late 1990s made it more difficult to conduct business on the streets, according to acting Sgt. Mark Gilkey, who heads the Metropolitan Police Department’s prostitution unit...

Case-clearance problems give rise to finger-pointing

      Police and prosecutors in Baltimore are pointing fingers at each other over who is to blame for hundreds of narcotics cases dropped, dismissed or delayed in recent months.

      Prosecutors claim that they have been unable to get analyses of suspected drugs back from the police department’s crime lab in time for trial, and police say that the district attorney’s office is losing the results. Both agencies, meanwhile, contend that in many instances, the wrong case numbers are being entered into state computer systems by booking officers at the city’s Central Booking and Intake Center, making it impossible to track down test results...

Quality, not quantity, counts in onset of post-traumatic stress

      In a study whose findings are made all the more timely by the events of Sept. 11, researchers have found that it is the quality, not the frequency, of an officer’s response to critical incidents which provides the strongest indicator of whether symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder will develop.

      Researchers in San Francisco, beginning in 1997 with $1.8 million in funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, queried more than 700 sworn law-enforcement personnel from agencies in New York, Oakland and San Jose. Suzanne Best, the study’s senior research psychologist, said that in addition to being asked about social support, use of alcohol, sleep and routine work stress, participants were asked to select the most personally distressing critical incident they had experienced during their careers...

Local agencies seen picking up the lion’s share of U.S. justice bill

      More than half of the record $147 billion spent in this country on criminal justice activities in 1999 was laid out by local governments for police protection, according to a new report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

      The study, “Justice Expenditure and Employment in the United States, 1999,” found that spending for law enforcement, corrections, and judicial and legal activities by all levels of government rose by 309 percent since 1982, from $36 billion to $147 billion...

Preconceived notions:
A closer look makes city rethink hot spots

      An analysis this month of major crimes reported in Wilmington, N.C., last year found that most violent offenses were committed not in the city’s public housing developments or certain low-income sections long viewed as the most turbulent parts of town. Rather, the worst hot spots were those areas that are home to a concentrated mix of apartments, short-term residents, traffic and businesses.

      Nearly 7.5 percent of major crimes in Wilmington — 659 incidents in all — took place in the South Kerr section. Not far behind was the city’s downtown areas, which accounted for 5.5 percent of violent offenses and nearly 6 percent of all major crimes...

A mother of a court ruling

      “I want my mommy.”
      When a suspect says so, he is invoking his right to remain silent, according to a ruling this month by the Delaware Supreme Court.

      The three-judge panel remanded for retrial a case involving a 32-year man charged with burglary and theft of a firearm. Robert W. Draper was arrested for a domestic disturbance in February 1999. Under questioning by police, he was charged with the more serious offense. Draper was convicted and given an eight-year sentence.

Sheriff insists productivity guidelines are not a quota

      When is a quota not a quota? When it’s a “performance evaluation with an achievement factor,” according to Hamilton County, Tenn., Sheriff John Cupp, who defended his agency’s productivity guidelines against allegations that they were an unfair quota, saying some sworn employees would not do their jobs without a push.

      The “Achievement Factor Guidelines,” a copy of which was obtained by The Chattanooga Times Free Press, assign points values to 23 separate actions that deputies might take. Deputies are rated on a scale of one to five in eight areas, including “quality and quantity of work...”

Not who they appear to be:
Getting tough with police impersonators

      With the safety of the population dependent upon trust in the “thin blue line,” the crime of police impersonation has taken on an even more menacing dimension, according to state lawmakers in Michigan, who plan on introducing legislation that would elevate the offense to a felony.

      “We want to be able to identify the good guys,” state Senator William Van Regenmorter, a Republican from Georgetown Township, told Law Enforcement News. “If we don’t have strong laws that protect the public from those who would pretend to be officers, I think it’s just one of a number of areas of potential terrorism...”

Police recruits try, try again in Austin

      Although all passed after a second try, half of Austin’s police cadets failed an upgraded version of the state’s basic exam for officers in February.

      The 50-percent failure rate in the class of 42 students came as a surprise to the department. “This is the first time this has happened since I can remember,” Assistant Chief Rick Coy told The Austin American Statesman. “I don’t see it as a crisis. It’s just an indication that we’re going to have to adapt to the new test...”

February 1977
That was then. . .

      A look back at the events of this month 25 years ago, as reported in Law Enforcement News.      

  • Year-end statistics for 1976 show homicide dropping in at least 10 major cities, but experts disagree as to causes of the decline and what trends might be expected in the years ahead. Some cities also report sharp across-the-board decreases in violent crimes...

  • Kallstrom gets the call:

          New York’s 70,000 state and municipal police will now be privy to tips, clues and other developments in the war against terrorism that were previously known only to federal law enforcement, under a new information-sharing initiative administered by the state Office of Public Security.

          The $2-million initiative is part of an overall $200-million request Gov. George Pataki made to fund the office, which was created after Sept. 11 to bolster the state’s anti-terrorist efforts. It is being headed by James Kallstrom, who was assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office and lead investigator in the TWA Flight 800 crash in 1996. He is serving in the unpaid position as OPS director, reporting directly to the governor, while on leave from his job as senior executive vice president of MBNA America, the Delaware-based credit card company...