Law Enforcement News

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

[LEN Home] - [Masthead] - [Past Issues] SUBSCRIBE

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.

Note to Readers:

The opinions expressed on the Forum page are those of the contributing writer or cartoonist, or of the original source newspaper, and do not represent an official position of Law Enforcement News.

Readers are invited to voice their opinions on topical issues, in the form of letters or full-length commentaries. Please send all materials to the editor.


Cohen, Hurson:
The state & local role in domestic defense

     On the ground and in the skies above Afghanistan, decades of effort to integrate battlefield information systems have paid dividends in the war against terrorism. Army and Marine ground troops, Navy and Air Force pilots, and distant joint command centers now communicate easily via common systems, sharing fresh targeting information in real time, while bombs and missiles launched by pilots from 20,000 feet are then guided by hand-held lasers on the ground with deadly precision.

      At the same time, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have revealed the costly lack of integration in our domestic defense efforts. Consider:
¶ Prior to September 11, a number of the hijackers turned up on the radar screen of local law enforcement or government attention. Some were issued driver’s licenses under false identities, two were arrested for drunken driving, another was the subject of a misdemeanor arrest warrant, and yet another was apparently stopped by a state trooper just days prior to the attacks. In each of these cases, their names were entered into state government or local criminal justice-related data systems. Meanwhile, the FBI was seeking to locate at least two of these individuals, and some of their names apparently were also being tracked in other intelligence data bases. Unfortunately, because these various information systems are not sufficiently interlinked and maintained, the chance to potentially disrupt some of the hijackers was lost...

A new way of doing business at NIJ

      I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the community policing fan club. The definition of community is too vague and the obligations placed upon the police are too broad. The concept of a police-community partnership is fundamentally flawed. The public is not a single entity and mutually exclusive objectives often compete for public attention. Asking individual police officers to build community consensus, identify latent problems, resolve conflicts, find appropriate solutions, coordinate community response, and apply an appropriate remedy is quite an undertaking. Asking an officer to solve persistent problems in spare time, when not responding to citizen calls for service, is totally unreasonable.

      In theory, policing is relatively easy, and there is little need for a police force when the distinction between good and evil is clear and widely accepted as valid. But actual policing is seldom that simple. When two or more rights come into conflict and individuals reject the controlling legal authority, prompt police intervention may be required to prevent violence. The officer maintains order while the issue in dispute is presented for judicial review to haggle over the meaning of words, the intent of the parties involved, and the application of existing legal precedents...