Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXVIII, No. 588 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY November 30, 2002

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: The man in the 100-gallon hat; Murphy returns; the art of dying; border patrol for Hutchinson; growth potential; a pioneer’s passing.
Backfire: California A-G asks for a study on ballistic fingerprinting, but isn’t happy with the findings.
High-tech crime-fighting: New cyber-crime centers are set for Pittsburgh, Dallas.
Federal File: A roundup of criminal justice developments at the federal level.
Ain’t it grand? Virginia DNA database marks its 1,000th cold hit.
Exit ramp: W. Va. eyes early trooper retirement as a way to boost recruiting.
Man’s best friend: Crime-fighting applications for pet DNA.
Self-destruct button: Study questions old assumptions about officer suicide.
Thinking big: Small Texas town leads the pack in wireless technology.
Number-crunching: Denver sorts out first data on traffic & pedestrian contacts.
Doctor’s orders: Seeking answers to prescription painkiller abuse.
Gone in 60 seconds: Revived task force has auto thieves on the run in New Orleans.
Pushing the envelope: Mexican drug gangs advance northward.
Forum: Homeland security — safety in numbers; handling the news media.
Upcoming Events: Professional development opportunities.

Note to Readers:

The opinions expressed on the Forum page are those of the contributing writer or cartoonist, or of the original source newspaper, and do not represent an official position of Law Enforcement News.

Readers are invited to voice their opinions on topical issues, in the form of letters or full-length commentaries. Please send all materials to the editor.


Homeland security — safety in numbers

     The challenge of preventing further terrorist attacks on our nation requires collaboration. The CIA and the FBI are on the front lines, but that’s not enough. The challenge of homeland security requires innovative thinking and forging alliances.

     The FBI often disseminates information to state, county and local police agencies via the National Crime Information Computer system, asking for information or help in finding a suspect. If the FBI and CIA are that dependent on allied agencies for so simple a task, it’s obvious they don’t have the manpower to combat terrorism domestically...

Patrick Collins
Handling the media: the lessons of some Moose-terpiece theater

     A dozen years ago, if I began a media skills workshop by asking how many of those present had been on television, the question got a small laugh and an even smaller show of hands. Today, it’s a serious question and usually half of the audiences I talk to have had some direct exposure to media coverage. Yet police remain notoriously uncomfortable when it comes to facing the media — a situation that wrongly diminishes the public perception of their credibility and effectiveness.

     The recent excellent performance of Montgomery County, Md., Police Chief Charles Moose as a media spokesman in the Beltway Sniper case was a striking example of the importance of effective communication with the media. Moose’s virtuoso effort in handling the media had three key components. First of all, the chief refused to engage in speculation, thereby defusing all of the “what if” scenarios posed by copy-hungry reporters. Second, he conducted media briefings on a regular basis. Although this high degree of access may go against the grain of some in law enforcement, it was an important bit of media relations and control in the sense of minimizing coverage based upon commentary by the army of “experts” that surface in the presence of such a major news event. Finally, this high degree of access enabled Chief Moose to advance his agenda and build public trust rather than have reporters engage in further and often damaging speculation as the case progressed...