Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVIII, No. 575 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY April 15, 2002

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Blood ties; air heads; heading home; in the thick of things.
Now you see them, now you don’t: Departments make changes at the top.
First aid, not worst aid: Getting smart about medical response.
The truth is out there: FCC admits cell-phones interfere with police radios.
Red faces in Denver: Police intelligence practices are criticized.
Hold the line: DoJ officials say ‘no’ to easing penalties for crack.
It’s not over yet: Crime continues to drop in some cities.
If it’s not broken: IACP wants bank heists left in FBI’s hands.
Later for loitering law: Madison will let anti-drug ordinance expire.
Let’s do lunch: A new dimension in cultural diversity training.
Hit the road, Grandma: Supreme Court upholds controversial drug eviction policy.
Forum: A model of collaboration to fight domestic violence.
Letters: Feedback from our readers.
Spurred into action: As robberies rise, British cops will expand stop & search practices.

What does it all mean?
FNJ study underscores difficulty of analyzing traffic-stop data

      With a true benchmark yet to be established for analyzing the data collected from traffic stops in countless jurisdictions nationwide, such information continues to be open to interpretation by police, social scientists, policy makers and government agencies — in short, anyone with a vested interest in some aspect of the racial profiling issue.

      Federal and state authorities in New Jersey were rattled last month when a study commissioned by the office of former state attorney general John Farmer found that black drivers tended to speed more than whites on a certain section of the New Jersey Turnpike. Officials of the state troopers’ union officials hailed the finding as proof that reports of biased policing were vastly exaggerated by journalists and civil rights advocates, but U.S. Justice Department officials challenged the conclusions, claiming that the methodology used was faulty. Researchers, meanwhile, while not necessarily agreeing that the conclusion vindicated police, nonetheless found the methods used to analyze the data to be superior to many current practices...

LA officials hope the math adds up with new flexible work schedule

      The changeover to a new flexible work schedule for Los Angeles police officers that combines three 12-hour days and four 10-hour days will be completed citywide in May, but it will come with an annual $4.3-million price tag and little assurance that it will reduce overtime and sick leave, according to a consulting team hired by city officials.

      Instead of working five days a week, patrol officers and, later, investigators and community relations officers will work three- and four-day weeks. The schedule, approved by the City Council last November, was the fulfillment of a campaign pledge made to the 9,000-member Police Protective League, which supported Mayor James Hahn’s successful bid for office. As of April, four divisions had switched over to the new hours...

A new shoulder to lean on:
Tactical officers get help from those who’ve been there

      Tactical officers traumatized by the death or severe injury of a colleague will now be able to talk about their distress with those who might best understand it — other SWAT officers — through a new initiative launched this year by the National Tactical Officers Association.

      The Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) is one of a number of projects developed as part of the organization’s “Safe Today, Alive Tomorrow” program. It is the first stress management program to be provided free of charge to tactical officers anywhere in the country, and the first to be managed exclusively by tactical team members, said Larry Glick, executive director of the NTOA...

Now you see them, now you don’t For some departments, the only thing that stays the same is change

      Elizabeth City, N.C., this month lost its fourth police chief in 10 years when Trevor Hampton was suspended with pay just hours before the City Council voted to have the police force investigated by the Justice Department.

      Hampton, who was hired in 2000, was praised by some Council members for hiring the first full staff of officers in a decade and improving the agency’s community policing policies. City Manager Steve Harrell would not say why he had placed Hampton on administrative leave, saying only that it did not reflect on his performance with the department.

First aid shouldn’t be worst aid:
Getting smart about medical response

      While the era of the first-aid kit containing a few bandages, a pair of scissors and some anti-bacterial ointment are not entirely gone, its demise is being hastened by new “smart” kits developed for law enforcement use over the past several years by at least two different manufacturers.

      One such kit developed by Smart Care, a New Jersey-based company, provides instruction cards and supplies to treat eight different types of basic injuries. It was created by Dave Hammond, a U.S. Navy medic during the Vietnam War who spent three decades perfecting his product...

“Policing, we have a problem’: FCC concedes interference with police radios

      If the first step toward solving a problem is admitting that one exists, then federal regulators last month moved that much closer to finding a solution for one that has plagued law enforcement for at least the past four years: the interference between wireless phone transmissions and police communications.

      In March, the Federal Communications Commission publicly acknowledged the issue for the first time. While the FCC does not have a solution of its own for fixing the problem, it asked the public for ideas, as well as for comments on plans submitted by the telecommunications industry...

Red Squad days revisited:
Furor over Denver PD intelligence practice

      Agreeing with civil libertarians that police overstepped their bounds when they opened intelligence files on local activists, Denver officials last month passed a nonbinding resolution aimed at discouraging and limiting such surveillance in the future.

      The resolution, which passed the City Council by a vote of 7-4 on March 18, dissuades police from investigating groups or individuals based on immigration status or country of origin. The measure’s sponsors say it is meant to serve as a response to the USA Patriot Act passed by Congress last fall, while addressing the issue raised by the ACLU when it disclosed the existence of the dossiers...

DoJ officials: ‘Hold the line on crack’

      Efforts to balance out disparities between sentences for distributing crack and powdered cocaine should be aimed at increasing the penalties for powder, not at reducing prison time for crack offenses, according to Justice Department officials, who said last month that would oppose any sentence-reduction efforts by lawmakers.

      In recent testimony before the eight-member U.S. Sentencing Commission, Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson said harsher penalties for crimes involving crack cocaine are warranted, given the greater threat posed by the substance. Crack cocaine, he said, was more associated with violent crime than the powdered form of the drug...

It’s not over till it’s over:
For some cities, crime continues to drop

      While the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report found that the nation’s plummeting crime rate had finally found the bottom in 2000, that appears not to be true for a handful of cities including New York, Miami, East Hartford, Conn., and Virginia Beach, which continue to see sharp decreases in violent crime in recent months.

      Exactly why crime has fallen seems to be somewhat of a mystery. Experts say that although policing strategies have played a role in many areas, the fall in local crime has been so precipitous that other factors had to have been at work. Just what those were, however, no one seems to know...

IACP wants bank robbery cases left in FBI’s hands

      While the FBI refocuses its mission on terrorism prevention, it should not abandon the type of crime-fighting that local law enforcement has come to expect from the bureau, such as bank robbery investigations, according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

      “I understand the need to be more attentive to terrorism issues, but the people who say the FBI should no longer be in the business of chasing bank robbers don’t know what they are talking about,” said the IACP’s president, Police Chief William Berger of North Miami Beach, Fla.

Despite strong support. . .
Loitering law won’t be hanging around

      Despite strong support from police, community groups and a majority of City Council members in Madison, Wis., an anti-loitering ordinance aimed at disbanding open-air drug markets in some of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods will be allowed to expire.

      The ordinance was vetoed in March by Mayor Sue Bauman, who cited concerns over its disproportionate use against African Americans and its effectiveness as a public safety tool. Established in 1997 with an annual sunset provision, the law made it illegal to loiter for the purposes of selling drugs. Council members, who voted 11-7 in favor of making the measure permanent, were unable to garner enough votes for a “supermajority” of 14 that would have overriden Bauman’s veto...

Cultural diversity training moves to another level — from the classroom to the lunchroom

      Cultural diversity cannot be experienced through the classroom alone, so the Providence Police Department will soon have recruits share meals, attend sporting events and even attend church with families of different ethnic backgrounds as part of an unusual immersion program.

      Designed by a veteran law-enforcement officer, Arthur Jones, now an assistant professor at the Johnson & Wales University Center for Legal Studies, the program, which was launched last month, calls for recruits to spend one lunch hour a week at a local elementary school, and 30 hours during the course of their training period with families of differing ethnic backgrounds. The initiative also includes several hours of classroom study...

High Court upholds drug-eviction policy

      Public housing tenants may be evicted if a guest or household member has engaged in drug use, regardless of whether the tenant knew of the activity or whether the offense took place far from the dwelling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month.

      The Justices ruled 8-0 that, under a provision of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Congress intended to give housing authorities the right to remove “innocent owners.” The meaning was unambiguous, said the Court, as indicated by a term in public housing leases which finds grounds for eviction based on “any drug-related criminal activity.”...

Dialogue, not diatribe

      To the editor:
My recent article “Rethinking community policing” (Forum, Jan. 15/31, 2002) was offered as a vehicle for engaging in a dialogue, not a diatribe. Unfortunately, Lieut. Daniel A. Meeks of the Fort Wayne Regional Community Policing Institute appears to have missed the point (letter, Feb. 28, 2002). Specific concerns regarding the needs of unaffiliated individuals were ignored, summarily dismissed as narrow-minded or the product of a shallow understanding of the role of the police officer. Somehow, it would seem, being located in New York renders one incapable of understanding the community policing philosophy.

      I make no emotional appeal concerning children sleeping in bathtubs for their safety, nor claim to speak for the millions of citizens across our country. I simply questioned the unsubstantiated claims that all positive results are exclusive to community policing, and asked for objective testing...

Spurred into action:
As robberies rise, Bobbies widen stop & search

      Prompted by a double-digit rise in street crimes across England and Wales over the past year, a task force that includes the nation’s police chiefs, top attorneys, and senior government ministers will get to work discussing crime-fighting initiatives three months ahead of schedule, Home Secretary David Blunkett said last month.

      Between 2000 and 2001, robberies rose by 13 percent. That figure rose by another 13 percent during the past 12 months, with some 78,071 muggings recorded in the past year...