Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVIII, No. 584 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY September 30, 2002

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Still No. 1; back to square one; a chief’s heavy lifting; personal problems; learning new tricks; the chief of chiefs; talking a blue streak.
Say “when”: Self-diagnosis for would-be DWIs.
Sweet idea: Making it easier to tell diabetics from drunks.
Trouble in the air: Is the sky marshal program riddled with problems?
Hard choice: Portland PD takes a bite out of community policing effort.
Moving messages: Agencies consider private advertising on squad cars.
Numbers game: UCR & BJS agree to disagree.
Any takers? Little interest in free DNA tests.
Point & shoot: Police under fire over photos.
Keeping hope alive: Web site tries to link remains with names of missing.
Raising funds, but for whom? PAL pulls the plug on fundraiser.
Where’s the money? DoJ calls tribe on the carpet over COPS grant.
Forum: Secrets of strategic decision-making.
In a crossfire: Crowd-control tactics criticized from two sides.
Flying solo: Oklahoma HP gets ready to do its own crime investigations.
Upcoming Events: Opportunities for professional development.
Little to go on: Hunt pressed hunt for serial killer.

Final score: Columbus 1, DoJ 0
City wins after forcing feds to show their hand on consent decree

     When Columbus, Ohio, officials decided in 1999 that they would fight the Justice Department in court rather than agree to the terms of a consent decree, the action broke new ground. And when a federal judge this month dismissed the three-year-old federal civil rights suit, the city made history.

     The ruling on Sept. 3 by U.S. District Judge John Holschuh came after the city outlined to federal prosecutors the steps it had taken to improve the Columbus Division of Police...

Bottoms-up management is a team effort in Lexington

     The change in organizational structure at the Lexington, Mass., Police Department may have come from the top, but the way the agency goes about its business these days is pretty much a bottoms-up proposition.

     In 1997, the department underwent a sea change. Instead of clinging to a traditional, quasi-military policing model, it adopted a team-based approach that brought both ranking and non-ranking officers into the decision-making process...

Most Virginia chiefs like their incident-based crime reports

     Three years after the FBI certified Virginia as an “Incident-Based Reporting” state, most if not all police officials there contend that the far more detailed information they now collect on offenses is giving them a better overall picture of crime in their communities and more to work with in terms of planning crime-fighting strategies.

     The year 2000 represented the first full year that the majority of police agencies in Virginia used incident-based reporting, as opposed to conventional uniform crime reporting. Virginia was the ninth state in the nation to be certified by the FBI...

Knowing when to say “when”:
Self-diagnosis tool may help avoid DWIs

     A strip of paper that roughly gauges the user’s intoxication level is a tool that can help people make the right decision about drinking and driving, according to a number of law enforcement agencies around the nation that have embraced the Guardian Angel Personal Alcohol Test.

     Created by a San Francisco-based firm, the self-administered test strips are being distributed by state highway patrols in Wyoming and Colorado, and by several municipal agencies, including the North Miami Beach, Fla., Police Department, and the Atherton and Santa Clara police departments in California...

An ounce of prevention:
Making diabetics harder to Miss.

     With an estimated 322,000 people in the state who suffer from diabetes, a disease whose symptoms can often mimic those of alcohol or drug intoxication, Mississippi legislators have authorized the creation of a specially marked license plate that would alert police to potentially ailing motorists.

     The new tag, which was designed by the Mississippi State Tax Commission and unveiled on Aug. 29, just might save a driver’s life in a crisis, said Mary Fortune, vice president of the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi...

Trouble in the air? Standards seen falling as attrition strafes sky marshal program

     The federal air marshal program, which drew officers in droves from federal, state and local agencies after Sept. 11, is apparently losing its recruits at a similar rate, according to a report in USA Today that depicted a program in alarming disarray.

     Although the head of the air marshal program, Tom Quinn, and officials with the Transportation Security Administration have downplayed the number of resignations in recent months, putting the figure at fewer than 80, documents obtained by USA Today in August showed at least 250 officers leaving the agency. In one e-mail cited by USA Today, dated July 17, the program’s human resources office advised managers of the need to appoint an employees relation assistant, “given the volume of resignations we have been receiving...”

Something had to give:
PD takes a bite out of community policing

     When you’re down by a dozen police officers with little hope of quick replacement in sight, something’s got to give, and that something in Portland, Maine, has been the agency’s cherished community policing program.

     While not eliminating it entirely, Police Chief Michael Chitwood made significant cutbacks in the unit this month. Out of 10 community policing officers, the 160-member department was forced to pull four in order to maintain minimum coverage on the street. Now, instead of two officers and a coordinator in each of the unit’s five sites, only one of the locations will maintain that full complement...

This police car is brought to you by (your name here)

     There’s a saying that when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. In Springfield, Fla., when the city’s budget got tight, municipal and police officials went shopping for a corporate sponsor who would buy it police cars in exchange for advertising on the vehicles.

     “If we had plenty of money, I probably wouldn’t even look at it,” said Police Chief Sam Slay. “With budget shortfalls and the need to add personnel, I kind of had to set my preferences aside”...

Once again, UCR & BJS crime survey agree to disagree

     Is the honeymoon over, or not? Depending on which study one reads, crime either began a slow upward reversal in 2001, or it fell to its lowest level in nearly 30 years.

     The disparity began to emerge in July, when the FBI’s preliminary Uniform Crime Reports for 2001 found that overall crime had inched up by 2 percent over the amount reported the previous year. On Sept. 9, the Bureau of Justice Statistics came out with its latest National Crime Victimization Survey, which reported a 10-percent decline in violent crime, and a 6-percent drop in property crime. The figures for last year are the lowest recorded since the agency began keeping track in 1973...

DNA tests may be free for the taking, but few are taking

     In the nearly three years since San Diego County, Calif., began offering free DNA testing to its jail inmates, and, subsequently, to defendants under a state statute, it has had only a handful of takers — a situation that seems to be repeated around the nation.

     San Diego County was the first jurisdiction to offer some prisoners free testing back in 2000, when DNA technology seemed poised to play an increasing role in determining the fairness of convictions. But out of 561 felony convictions that occurred prior to 1992, prosecutors there found only three cases in which guilt or innocence might have been shown through a DNA test...

Stop & I’ll shoot...
Wilmington PD’s anti-crime pix under fire

     Civil libertarians have taken heated issue with the Wilmington, Del., Police Department’s practice of pointing and shooting — albeit with digital cameras — at drug suspects during stop-and-frisks, claiming the anti-crime strategy crosses constitutional boundaries.

     The photo policy was implemented in June with the creation of two new units the department calls “jump-out squads.” With up to 20 officers in each, the squads descend on street corners, bursting from marked and unmarked cars to make quick arrests of street-level dealers. Squad members generally line the people on the corner against and frisk them for weapons...

Web site keeps hope alive for identifying dead & missing

     A Web site dedicated to matching missing persons with unidentified human remains might be the last, best hope for putting names to the bones of children and adults who disappeared long ago.

     Called the Doe Network, the three-year-old site features some 4,400 missing persons cases in its database, some dating back to the early 1970s. It provides photographs, reconstructed images and any available information, such as the circumstances of the disappearance. To be included, the cases must be at least nine years old and be considered by law enforcement agencies to have gone cold. All of the 400 or so unidentified victims listed by the Doe Network were believed to have died prior to 2000...

PAL pulls the plug on fundraiser & its 95% fee

     The National Association of Police Athletic Leagues (PAL) last month pulled out of a four-year contract with a telemarketing firm that took 95 percent of the $4.2 million it had raised for the “kids and cops” charity.

     According to the group’s audited financial statement, American Trade and Convention Publications, a Milwaukee-based firm, kept $4 million from the money that was donated to PAL in 2000. While spending that percentage of funds on telemarketing is not illegal, its goes against the public’s expectations, said Bennett Weiner, chief operating officer of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance of Arlington, Va...

COPS grant for tribal police under scrutiny

     Federal auditors are asking what happened to nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in COPS funds after a tribal police force in Penasco, N.M., dissolved several months ago.

     Officials from the Picuris Pueblo have refused to discuss the matter with authorities, claiming it is tribal business. “Nobody has the authority to question us on this,” said pueblo Gov. Gerald Nailor. “We’re working on it.”...

You can’t please everyone:
Portland crowd control tactics draw fire

     The Portland, Ore., Police Bureau got it from both sides in August, as protesters accused the agency of resorting to inappropriate force when it used rubber bullets against a crowd, while attendees at a political event headlined by President Bush complained that police did not keep them safe.

     More than 1,000 people showed up outside of the Hilton Portland on Aug. 22 to protest Bush and his supporters at a fund-raiser held for Senator Gordon Smith. Shortly before 5 p.m., the scene became chaotic. Police, including some from other jurisdictions, tried to move the crowd farther from the hotel, giving oral commands and pushing demonstrators away with batons, according to a report by The Oregonian newsaper. When the protesters did not move, police used pepper spray to try and disperse them...

HP gets ready to solo

     When homicides, robberies and other crimes occur on the state’s turnpikes, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol typically calls in other police agencies in the jurisdiction where the incident took place, but that’s about to change with the formation of the patrol’s first crime scene investigation unit.

     A group of 10 troopers began shadowing Tulsa police detectives this month, learning how they conduct investigations into a variety of crimes. “They are spending time with an assortment of squads to get an idea of the type of crimes they may encounter,” said Tulsa Sgt. Mike Huff, a homicide supervisor who was placed in charge of the training program...

Upcoming Events

     4. Use of Force Instructor Certification Course. Presented by the National Criminal Justice Training Council. Huntsville, Ala. $495.

     4-5. Risk Management for Law Enforcement Agencies. Presented by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Greer, S.C. $385...

Little good news in hunt for Baton Rouge serial killer

     They think he drives a white pickup truck, but the clues that might lead Baton Rouge investigators to the killer of three women in the past 10 months seem to be few and far between — and that’s not good news for the city’s female population, which has been thrown into a panic by the unidentified serial murderer

     It was only in July that the deaths of Gina Wilson Green and Charlotte Murray Pace were linked by police. Green, a 41-year-old nurse, was strangled in her home on Sept. 24, 2001, while Pace, a 22-year-old graduate student, was stabbed to death in her house on May 31. The third victim, a 44-year-old antiques dealer and artist named Pamela Kinamore, was found with her throat slit under the Whiskey Bay Bridge on July 16. DNA evidence collected from Kinamore’s body was matched to the first two murders, leading local, state and federal investigators to announce that there is a serial killer on the loose in Baton Rouge...