Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVIII, No. 573, 574 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY March 15/31, 2002

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Newton’s apple; the Bureau shuffle; hard loss in the Big Easy; reaching out; one last step in Philly.
Campus daze: Ups & downs of college requirements for cops.
Columbus goes global: Ohio capital eyes diversity response unit.
Help is a click away: Cyber-crime lab makes debut in St. Louis.
Any more bad news? A double dose of unwelcome news for DC police force.
Fixing a hole: How some sex offenders avoid registering with police in Ohio.
Youthful indiscretions: Some departments open the door wider to recruits with prior drug use.
By police, for police: Software tandem makes traffic stops easier.
A light with bite: Device combines spotlight with pepper spray.
Helping the helpers: Police in Mass., R.I. seek mutual-aid protection.
You booze, you lose: A victim’s alcohol use hurts sex-case verdicts.
LEN interview: Kicking up some dust with Portland, Ore., Police Chief Mark A. Kroeker.
Forum: Policing in the era of terrorism.
Criminal Justice Library: Who’s driving the crime-policy bus? Plus, solving the riddle of the 1990’s crime decline.

Give us your tired, your poor. . .
Fla. cops may get immigration enforcement powers

      Arrests based solely on immigration violations have long been the exclusive province of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Border Patrol, but Florida officials expect that to change in coming months under an agreement with the Justice Department that will grant immigration enforcement authority to a select group of law enforcement officers in the state.

      The partnership between Florida and the federal government would be the first of its kind in the nation. According to a plan submitted by state officials, 35 municipal officers, sheriff’s deputies and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents would be assigned in teams of five to Florida’s seven regional anti-terrorism task forces, where they would be authorized to stop, question and detain illegal aliens...

Judge has change of heart, OK’s fingerprint evidence

      Law enforcement officials can once again breathe easily, after a federal judge reversed his earlier ruling that expert witnesses may not testify that a fingerprint found at a crime scene is that of a particular person.

      The initial ruling in January by Judge Louis H. Pollak of the Federal District Court in Philadelphia shook law enforcement officials, who have long relied on fingerprints as virtually unassailable forensic evidence. Pollak’s ruling, which was part of a pretrial proceeding in a capital murder case, held that fingerprints used by prosecutors to link two defendants to four drug-related murders committed in 1998 did not meet the standards for scientific testimony set by a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision. Fingerprint analysis, said Pollak, had not been subjected to the rigorous testing required under that ruling...

Alert by drug-sniffing dog isn’t enough to warrant pat-down of passengers

      Drivers may be frisked and arrested if a drug-sniffing dog detects the odor of narcotics in a vehicle, but police must keep their hands off passengers, according to a ruling last month by a three-judge panel of Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals.

      The unanimous decision will be appealed to the state supreme court, said Gary E. Bair, chief of criminal appeals for the attorney general’s office. “What the court seems to be saying is although the dog alerted to the car…the passengers in the car were of a different status then the driver and therefore the search of passenger was illegal,” he told Law Enforcement News. “It’s our position that the dog alert provided probable cause to search the car, or any of the passengers or drivers in the car.”...

The ups & downs of college for cops

      As one police agency lowers its educational requirements, another has beefed up standards and has launched a campaign to recruit the “best and the brightest” from Ivy League schools.

      Citing a dwindling number of applicants, the Bangor, Maine, Police Department last month said it would drop its decade-long requirement that applicants have either a two-year criminal justice degree or two years of full-time law enforcement experience. Now, prospective officers need only be 21, have a high school or equivalency diploma, and a valid driver’s license...

Columbus sails new waters in diversity response

      What began as an effort by the Columbus, Ohio, Police Division to meet the needs of the city’s hearing-impaired population may grow to encompass a far wider range of community residents with special needs, under a proposed Diverse Cultural Response Unit that was unveiled by the agency last month.

      While the unit is still awaiting final approval from Chief James G. Jackson and his executive staff, it would bring together 10 to 12 officers with foreign-language skills and sensitivity training to provide both advice and operational support, said Lieut. Jeffrey Blackwell, who will head the unit...

Regional cyber-crime crime lab makes its St. Louis debut

      In a project two years in the making, St. Louis-area law enforcement agencies this month unveiled the region’s first forensic computer crime lab, which will provide equipment and expertise on a 24-hour basis to local police departments.

      The idea for the Regional Computer Crime Education and Enforcement Group (RCCEEG) of Greater St. Louis began at a training session two years ago that was attended by Clayton, Mo., police detective Ken Nix. Nix heard a presentation there by a members of an Illinois computer crime task force and realized there was nothing like it in his area. So he asked his chief if he could run with the concept...

More shootings, not enough followup with victims:
Bad news on top of bad news for DC cops

      The Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department received unsettling news on two fronts last month: the number of police shootings more than doubled last year, and officers were failing to follow up with crime victims.

      According to a comprehensive report by the MPD’s Force Investigation Team that chronicled the agency’s use-of-force, police gunfire injured or killed 17 people in 2001 as compared with seven the previous year — a 145-percent spike. Moreover, the number of times police fired at suspects rose by 45 percent from 2000, from 20 to 29 times, said investigators...

Ohio acts to close a loophole in sex-offender registry law

      Steps have been taken by Ohio lawmakers to correct a defect in a law that allowed those who pleaded guilty to importuning, or soliciting sex from a minor over the Internet, to duck the sex offender label and thus the need to register with local law enforcement.

      The law, sponsored by Senator Steve Austria (R.-Beavercreek), raised the offense from a misdemeanor last year to a fifth-degree felony. But it was never included among the charges in Ohio’s criminal code that would automatically trigger registration on the state’s sex offender registry.

Youthful indiscretions
Doors open wider to police recruits with prior drug use

      Youthful experimentation with drugs — even hard drugs — will no longer be an automatic barrier to joining the Virginia State Police, as the agency last month became one of a growing number which in the past decade have expanded their definition of what makes a candidate employable.

      Under the state police’s new guidelines, those who have tried heroin, cocaine or any other Schedule I or Schedule II drug more than five years before applying may still be considered. Use of those drugs more than once, however, would mean disqualification, as would any use of LSD or PCP. A different standard applies to marijuana. Applicants may still be considered if they have used it more than once, but not within the previous 12 months...

By police, for police:
Software makes some traffic stops easier

      Two new computer programs designed by police for police are making the issuance of traffic tickets a much safer and less time-consuming responsibility for a number of agencies in the state of Florida.

      Designed by an auxiliary officer with the Delray Beach Police Department, Virtual Partner software reads aloud the results of queries, while Quick Ticket automatically fills out and prints citations. Both are compatible with any police data system...

Pepper spray device offers a “light with bite”

      A new non-lethal weapon that delivers a “ballistic stream” of burning pepper spray into the eyes of would-be assailants has piqued the interest of law enforcement.

      Called “the light with a bite,” the handgun-shaped Pepper Escort shines a spotlight on an attacker while shooting out pepper spray to a range of 20 feet. It also leaves an ultraviolet dye that glows purple in the dark so police can identify a perpetrator...

Mass., R.I. police seek mutual-aid protection

      Although they have been coming to each other’s aid for years, police in communities along the Rhode Island-Massachusetts border now want legal protection for doing so, as offered in a recent proposal by a Rhode Island lawmaker.

      Last month, chiefs from both states showed up at hearings before the Senate Corporations Committee to support a measure by Senator Michael Damiani, a Democrat from East Providence, which would provide flexibility when a case took police across state lines...

Victim’s alcohol use hurts sex-case verdicts
Juries see drinking as a credibility issue

      The consumption of alcohol in the hours leading up to a sexual assault is so damaging to a victim’s credibility that juries acquit defendants in such cases roughly 90 percent of the time, according to a joint study by researchers at Rutgers University and the University of New Hampshire.

      The Alcohol & Rape Study, which was published in the February issue of the journal Criminal Law Bulletin, examined how juries decide those rape cases in which the defendant admits to a sexual act but claims it was consensual. Drinking by the victim, the study concluded, was the single most important influence on the verdict. It surpassed such evidentiary factors as whether the assailant had a weapon, injuries to the victim and the prior relationship between victim and attacker...

Law Enforcement News interview

      With a career that began in Los Angeles in 1965, and along the way has witnessed such events as the Watts riots, the Manson murders, the Rodney King beating and ensuing riots, and the O.J. Simpson case — not to mention Olympic games, presidential nominating conventions and even a stint with the international police task force in Bosnia — one might think that Mark Kroeker had seen enough to be prepared for just about anything policing could throw at him. Still, it’s arguable whether Kroeker, now the police chief of Portland, Ore., was ready for the hail of criticism aimed his way last fall for a principled decision to uphold the law.

      Kroeker rejected a request from the U.S. Justice Department to assist in conducting interviews of foreign nationals in Oregon, as part of the broad anti-terrorism investigation launched in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The decision was based on the belief that assisting in the inquiry as requested would violate state anti-discrimination law. Kroeker was reassured by federal officials that the interviews would be conducted even without the help of Portland police, and thus the investigation would go forth unimpeded. Still, that did not spare Kroeker and his department from condemnation by some who saw the decision as misplaced political correctness or, worse, a dereliction of duty in time of national emergency...

COPS & flops:
Who (or what) drives the crime-policy bus?

      The Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services — better known as the COPS program — was probably the least controversial component of the Clinton administration’s 1994 anti-crime legislation, but would any policy analyst worth his Ph.D. believe that the number of police funded for the program — 100,000 — resulted from an informal discussion among Clinton staffers during the 1992 presidential campaign? Or that a timely memo to Janet Reno from a police officer turned novice White House Fellow turned the Attorney General into a much-needed COPS supporter instead of its ardent antagonist?

      The COPS program is only one of many federal crime policy decisions of the last half-century that Ted Gest details and analyzes in “Crime & Politics: Big Government’s Erratic Campaign for Law and Order.” Gest, a seasoned Washington insider and currently a Senior Fellow at the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, spent 23 years as a writer and editor at U.S. News & World Report This experience serves him well as he recounts the history of anti-crime legislation in this informative, “behind the scenes” glimpse into criminal justice policy making...