Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXIX, No. 593 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY February 14, 2003

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Case dismissed; understudy’s starring role; outgoing chief’s a Green Bay packer; Ken-do spirit in Ohio; Louisville’s merger manager; larger than life.
For shame! Raleigh will give johns a taste of notoriety.
Falling short: Domestic security duties take a toll on arrests & clearances for Florida agency.
Going mobile: Cyber-crime training takes wing in northern Illinois.
Federal File: A roundup of criminal justice developments at the federal level.
All hands on deck: Milwaukee rolls out new thrust against domestic violence.
What do you know? When it comes to violent deaths, less than you might hope. That could change.
You scratch my back.... Cross-deputization works in Montana.
Cyber-post office wall: Outstanding warrants take their place on the Internet.
Information, please: Not all Maine cops comply with open-records law.
Uneasy feeling: Grand Rapids cops move grudgingly toward sensitivity training.
Forum: Homeland security — safety in numbers; handling the news media.
Upcoming Events: Professional development opportunities.

Speaking the same language
With the right outside help, Baton Rouge solves its database “Babel”

     It might come as a surprise to the general public, but to police, it’s a widely known, well established fact that an array of different, incompatible computer formats, programs, software and hardware have created a virtual Tower of Babel within law enforcement and criminal justice.

     Now comes along software which officials in East Baton Rouge Parish, La., contend acts like a universal translator, allowing every law enforcement agency, court, and prosecutor’s office in the county to tap into each others databases and make complete federal and local checks of a suspect’s history within seconds...

Do sweat the small stuff:
Quality-of-life issues? Take ’em to court!

     Guided by the now-common wisdom that when authorities sweat the small stuff, such as public drinking, turnstile jumping, and particularly, noise, it can help prevent more serious crimes in the future, jurisdictions around the country have launched new attacks on quality-of-life offenses that bring prosecutors, the courts, law enforcement and probation into the mix.

     In New York City, officials last summer initiated Operation Spotlight, a program aimed at cracking down on the small percentage of criminal defendants who commit the largest percentage of non-felony crimes. It calls for tougher sentences, special court parts to handle chronic offenders, and more supervision for those who are released on probation...

Training upgrades are in the works for Houston’s problem-solving specialists

     Going against the adage, that says if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, the Houston Police Department has launched a new training program aimed at improving the instruction it now gives to officers with the agency’s Differential Response Team.

     Differential response is the department’s name for problem-solving policing. Each of the department’s 29 storefront facilities has a DRT unit, with another four units at precincts where no facility has yet been created. The officers are charged with identifying chronic problems and coming up with imaginative and long-lasting solutions for fixing them...

For shame! Raleigh to give johns a taste of notoriety

     In the coming months, the Raleigh, N.C., Police Department will go the way of several other municipal law enforcement agencies in using public shame as a technique for reducing prostitution around the city.

     While police have not decided yet whether to display photographs of prostitutes, they will show pictures of their customers on a local cable station, and on the agency’s Web site...

Arrests, clearances fall short in Florida

     The number of cases closed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) was down for the first quarter of the 2002-2003 fiscal year, but officials contend that percentages do not tell the whole story — such as the impact of added responsibilities like homeland security and tracking missing children.

     Agency figures released in January showed just 22 percent of 1,214 cases were closed between July and October. Of those, 53 percent resulted in an arrest. Under the requirements of the FDLE’s $264-million budget, at least 47.5 percent of investigations must be closed and 67 percent must result in arrest...

Cyber-crime training takes wing with computer lab on wheels

     A regional law enforcement academy last month rolled out — literally — a new cyber-crime investigation course for police agencies in the metro Chicago area.

     Three officers with the Bartlett, Ill., Police Department were the first to attend a two-day course on identity theft and cyber stalking using a mobile wireless computer lab donated by Gateway Inc. to the College of DuPage Suburban Law Enforcement Academy (SLEA). The lab includes 23 notebook laptops plus additional software in a 24-bay rolling cart...

Federal File
Testing 1, 2, 3...

     A machine that can read the encrypted materials on the new ID cards already issued by the State Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service to some 15 million people began undergoing testing in December at three border crossing points and three airports.

     The cards are encrypted with digital photographs, biographical information, fingerprints and signatures. Officials are racing to have the technology up and running by a Congressional deadline...

All hands on deck:
Milwaukee gets serious about domestic violence

     With one in five homicides in 2001 stemming from family violence, Milwaukee Police Chief Arthur Jones last month launched a comprehensive plan for aggressively pursuing domestic abuse cases, bringing to bear the resources of law enforcement, prosecutors, victim’s advocates and batterer’s counselors.

     The initiative is the product of a year of planning, and was midwifed with the help of a $2-million grant that was one of just three handed out nationally. A key component will be the creation of a family violence unit that will bolster Wisconsin’s mandatory arrest law. Passed in 1989, that law requires police responding to a domestic violence call to leave with someone under arrest...

How little we know:
Violent-death database hopes for answers

     If the circumstances surrounding the 50,000 violent deaths that occur in the United States each year could be collected and stored in a database, much the way information about traffic fatalities has been since the 1970s, public health and law enforcement authorities just might be able to develop policies that could potentially prevent suicides and homicides.

     That’s the thought behind the recent creation of a National Violent Death Reporting System. Under a pilot program sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control in conjunction with the Harvard School of Public Health, six states — New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, South Carolina and Virginia — will be awarded grants totaling $7.5 million over a five-year period to collect more than 100 pieces of information on violent deaths...

Working together proves its own reward

     A unique cross-deputization agreement between the Fort Peck Tribes and law enforcement officials in Roosevelt County, Mont., that extends each other’s jurisdiction has been named a semifinalist for the 2002 Innovations in American Government Awards.

     The awards competition, organized by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and now in its 16th year, honors creative ways of solving issues of social and economic urgency. The 99 semifinalists were chosen from a field of 1,000 entries, having met the criteria for novelty, effectiveness in addressing significant problems, potential for replication by other government entities and importance. Winners will be selected in May and will receive $100,000 to replicate and promote their programs...

Outstanding warrants take their place in cyberspace

     With a backlog of nearly 60,000 outstanding bench warrants for offenses ranging from felonies to traffic tickets, the Shelby County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Department decided in January to take advantage of its already popular Web site and post the information online.

     “In this day and age, with any law enforcement agency, you have to have help from the public,” Steve Shular, a department spokesman, told Law Enforcement News. “You’ve got to have avenues that make it easy for the public to participate with you in crime prevention and abatement...”

After flunking, it’s back to school:
Maine cops need training in public-records access

     The state police chiefs’ association in Maine has scheduled a series of training sessions for this spring, after numerous local police departments flunked an audit to see if they were living up to the requirements of the state’s open-records act.

     At the same time, the chiefs’ association and the Maine State Police have signaled their opposition to a bill now before the Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee, which would mandate written policies and training for police on complying with the Freedom of Access Law...

Grand Rapids are leery of mandated sensitivity training

     Members of the Grand Rapids, Mich., police union will attend the city’s mandatory sensitivity training sessions, but they will do so grudgingly, the organization’s president said this month.

     According to Officer Ed Hillyer, who leads the 370-officer Police Officers’ Labor Council, it is not the concept of sensitivity training per se that is objectionable, but rather the assumption of this particular course that all white officers are de facto racists...

Upcoming Events:

     2-4. Contemporary Patrol Administration. Presented by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Buffalo Grove, Ill.

     2-4. Administering a Small Law Enforcement Agency. Presented by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Mooresville, N.C.