Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVIII, No. 587 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY November 15, 2002

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: A class act; “aloha” to Chin Ho; cover for Karzai; for God & country; red hot polka; Montana road warrior; blue-blooded cop.
Awaiting the wave: Houston PD fears surge of retirements in 2004.
Palm reading: Getting the goods on criminals from their electronic organizers.
Who are those guys? A face-recognition surveillance system sits idle.
Cash on the barrel: Chicago tries bonuses as fitness incentive.
A handle on homicides: New Orleans, Kansas City reconfigure detective units.
Dispersal pattern: Seattle breaks up gang unit & other specialized squads.
No more handouts: Okla. officials sorry to see military surplus program end.
Heads-up: New systems warns cops of potential threats.
Hitting the brakes: Drag-Net unit in San Diego targets illegal street racing.
Customer consciousness: Tulsa PD to survey public perceptions.
Null & void: Voters say “no” to jury nullification.
Bad bargain: Tribal justice frustrated by an arrangement with the feds.
Escape hatch: War on terror could shrink military anti-drug role.
Forum: Defense-oriented law & a case for reversal.
Madison blues: Officials take a stand on profiling.
Endangered species: Term limits may sweep out Colorado DA’s.

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Defense-oriented law — a case for reversal

     This October, Judge Gerald Harris of the New York City Criminal Court ruled in People v. Vincent Cooper that a police officer’s forcible pinching of a motorist’s cheeks to determine if evidence is being destroyed “is an intrusive action” and a “violation of a defendant’s Fourth amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure.” This despite overwhelming admitted direct and circumstantial factual evidence to the contrary.

     This decision can and should be overruled, as the police acted well within the limits of Fourth Amendment protections. The legal reasoning on which the suppression of evidence was based is part of an ever-growing trend of defense-oriented legal reasoning that seeks to prevent even minimal and reasonable use of force by the police. And, as important, Judge Harris’s decision is dangerously ignorant of the realities facing joint police and community efforts to eradicate drug dealing in New York City...