Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVIII, No. 579 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY June 15, 2002

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Radio run; new tune for Fyfe; heavy lifting; a cop’s animal instincts; now you see them, now you don’t.
Not so fast: Graduation for some recruits held up over curriculum questions.
Saudi duty: Richmond academy trains Arab police supervisors.
Making a difference: Having the right volunteer helps small agency computerize.
Preemptive strike: Illinois agencies to begin testing for steroids.
Sounding off: Excerpts from FBI agent’s whistle-blowing memo to Mueller.
Ground-level views. Local agencies react to changes in the FBI’s mission.
Common cause: Cops, doctors share perspectives on dealing with violence.
No home-field advantage: Even in LA, DARE’s fate is up in the air.
11th-hour reprieve: Montana HP pact with tribe gets an extension & review.
All there in black & white: Recent developments related to racial profiling.
Image-consciousness: Did racial profiling concerns hold back the FBI?
Forum: Big Brother is watching; practicing realism, not racism.
Silk purse: Canada pig farm holds clues to serial killings.
Time flies: NYPD’s controversial “48-hour rule” may be on its last legs.
Outside look: Two agencies to get a once-over from DoJ unit.
Card-carrying Mexicans: More cities accept ID cards issued by consulate.

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Big Brother is watching, ever so discreetly

     While recently walking back from teaching a class at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, I was asked by a colleague on the faculty to take part in an interview concerning the use of closed circuit television (CCTV) in England. (He had some students working on a media project who were looking to practice their skills on an unwitting passerby.) My colleague knew I was from England, here on a five-month assignment from Kent County Constabulary, arranged by the British Police Staff College at Bramshill with John Jay College. He thought I might be able to give an account of the use of CCTV back home, given the enthusiasm, post 9/11, for the installation of such devices throughout New York City.

      I hold the rank of superintendent (which equates to captain in the U.S.) and have responsibility for tactical operations training at police headquarters at Maidstone, Kent, yet the interviewer’s questions caused me to think back to the mid-1990’s, when I was a chief inspector at West Kent Basic Command Unit, in charge of uniform operations. Across the whole of England and Wales, the British Government under Prime Minister John Major was seeking to encourage local authorities to take advantage of some 10 million pounds sterling ( $14 million) they were offering to install and set up CCTV in town centers across the land. My own force was fortunate to have David Phillips (now Sir David) as its chief constable, who took immediate advantage of this offer and set a two-man team onto the task of, first, assessing the needs of all 26 of our towns, and second, determining what technology would be best suited in each case. The team consisted of a police inspector, Trevor Hall, and our own CCTV expert, Mick White. They put together a comprehensive package as our bid to central government and we were granted all the money we sought...

Practicing realism, not racism

     I think the term “racial profiling” was coined sometime in the mid-90’s. Various groups were attempting to explain why the nation’s prison systems were disproportionately high in minority populations. Now the catch phrase has become a hackneyed, misused scapegoat.

      Prior to this, “profiling” was a term used by law enforcement to describe a tool by which likely suspects could be identified. This has been true since the very beginning of police work. Certain criminal offenses are by statistical fact more likely to be committed by some groups than by others. This spans the spectrum of races, as well as ages, gender and sexual orientation. Of course, there are always variations and no one group is exempt from any one crime...