Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXIX, Nos. 595, 596 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY March 15/31, 2003

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Then there was Nunn; NJSP goes to the doctor; standing tall; going back to school; a sense of mission; all clear in SF.
Credit to the profession: Mass. rethinks higher education for cops.
School pictures The growing appeal of real-time video surveillance.
Seeing red over Amber: Could an alert have saved Nebraska teen?
Tell it to the police: Violent crime reporting rate improves.
Moonlight blues: Denver wrestles with comp-time abuse.
Killer at large: Methadone is proving deadly.
Calling off the search: CHP agrees to alter traffic-stop practice.
Safety last: Dallas’s problems with the Crown Vic appear unabated.
Wartime on the homefront: A photo essay.
More less-than-lethal: Santa Ana rethinks the beanbag round.
Property values: Oregon court reconsiders seizure limits.
Clueless in Seattle: Do police fail to take missing-person reports seriously?
It’s official: Supreme Court settles “three-strikes” question.
Sudden impact: NYPD rookies get right into the mix.
Self-protection: LAPD takes on Hollywood over its image.
Haves & have-nots: Colorado seeks more equality in funding for training.
Group effort: New association for police trainers.
Criminal Justice Library: Exposing fraud; curbing stress.
Forum: Big results from thinking small; making sense of community policing.
Upcoming Events: Professional development.

Good, better, best
What makes some sergeants a cut above the rest?

     What is it that separates an excellent sergeant from one who is merely good? The ability to devise creative solutions that take into account life’s moral ambiguities is a key ingredient, and a more prudent use of sick leave doesn’t hurt.

     Those were the surprising findings of a National Institute of Justice study that attempted to tease out those differences by examining the work habits and backgrounds of a small sample of Baltimore’s first-line supervisors...

Tough Chicago neighborhood to get extra attention from police, prosecutors

     Englewood, a four-square-mile Chicago neighborhood where more than 700 people have been killed in the past decade, including 61 in 2002, will be one of the first areas in the city where a pilot program, to be launched in March, will take aim at permanently removing drug dealers from street corners.

     The project is called ROGUES, short for Repeat Offender Geographic Urban Enforcement Strategies. Under the plan, the Cook County prosecutor’s office will assign each of the 11 assistant district attorneys in its narcotics felony trial unit to a police district that has been identified as having heavy narcotics trafficking going on near schools, churches and other “safe places.” When an individual is identified by law enforcement and the community as being a problem because of gang membership, a history of violence or a high incidence of narcotics busts, the ROGUES team will be notified. The appropriate assistant D.A. will then follow the case from beginning to end.

The wrong time to find out that emergency alert system doesn’t work

     When a freight train carrying anhydrous ammonia derailed last year just outside of Minot, N.D., sending out a deadly plume of gas, the city’s police department learned the fallibility of its emergency broadcast apparatus under the worst possible circumstances.

     The accident occurred just after 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 18, 2002. Seven of 31 Canadian Pacific Railway freight cars that had been carrying the substance ruptured, spilling an estimated 290,000 gallons into the ground, onto the frozen Souris River and filling the air with a lethally toxic cloud. One man was killed and hundreds of others were injured, along with pets and livestock. In all, 97,000 tons of contaminated soil and 25,000 square feet of frozen river ice had to be hauled away...

Closing the college of hard knocks:
No more life experience credit for Mass. cops

     The Quinn Bill, which was enacted in Massachusetts more than 30 years ago, was supposed to provide an educational incentive for police through bonuses, but critics have charged that the program provided little academic rigor. Now, under the stringent standards adopted last month by the state Board of Higher Education, officers will no longer be able to earn college credits for life experience or basic training.

     The Quinn Bill, formally known as the Police Career Incentive Pay Program, has long been a source of controversy. An audit released in November 2001 by the higher education board even called the program a “cash cow” for colleges and universities trying to draw in in-service students...

Real-time video surveillance has growing appeal for school districts

     While high-tech ID cards and security cameras that transmit in real-time may be more useful in stopping petty crimes than in preventing a potential Columbine-type massacre, school officials concede, it has not stopped districts across the nation from squeezing out what little money there may be in their budgets to install such systems.

     In the Wisconsin towns of Glendale and Brown Deer, a system called IVACS Digital City allows police from those jurisdictions to sit in their cruisers and watch live-feed videos from inside the local high schools...

Officials wonder if Amber Alert could have saved the life of abducted Nebraska teen

     In the aftermath of a teenager’s abduction and murder last month, questions have been raised by Nebraska officials as to whether a local police department’s lack of certified training in the use of the Amber Alert system led them to a delay of more than six hours in sending out a bulletin after the victim disappeared.

     “Hindsight is always 20-20,” said Attorney General John Bruning, chairman of a 19-member state Amber Alert advisory committee...

Violent-crime reporting rate improves

     Roughly half of all serious violent crimes were reported to police in 2000, an increase from the average reporting rate of 43 percent just eight years earlier, according to a report released in March by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

     In “Reporting Crime to the Police, 1992-2000,” researchers found that 49 percent of the estimated 6.2 million rapes, armed robberies and serious violent crimes were reported to authorities in 2000...

Coping with comp time:
Denver sees something shady about moonlighting

     A scandal over compensatory time off that has already led to the suspension of one veteran commander prompted the Denver Police Department this month to set stricter guidelines for when officers can work at off-duty jobs.

     There are four new rules: Compensatory time records will no longer be maintained on personal computers, but on the agency’s server with a security disc necessary to obtain access. Only those at the rank of lieutenant or above will be allowed to enter compensatory time into the server. Those entries will include the badge number of the command officer. Officers will no longer be allowed to work flexible hours that permit them to moonlight and will not be permitted to work off-duty on a regular basis. Finally, supervisors and command officers are prohibited from accepting a job scheduled by a subordinate...

Methadone takes its place as the latest killer drug

     The fastest rising killer drug in Florida is not Oxycontin, nor is it heroin or any other illegal substance. It is methadone, say officials, and a spike in the number of deaths there, as well as in both Maine and North Carolina, has caught authorities by surprise.

     “Out of no place came methadone,” said James McDonough, director of the Florida Office of Drug Control. From 2000 to 2001, the number of fatal overdoses attributed to methadone rose from 209 to 357. During the first six months of 2002, the figure was already 254...

California HP agrees to ground-breaking change in search practices

     Under the terms of a settlement reached last month with the ACLU of Northern California, the California Highway Patrol became the first law enforcement agency in the nation to agree voluntarily that it would no longer use minor traffic infractions as a pretext for conducting searches when no probable cause exists.

      The CHP also said it would extend until 2006 the ban on consent searches that was first adopted in 2001, and begin collecting data on every traffic stop to determine if minority drivers are being targeted. The information, including the race of the motorist, will be reviewed by an internal auditor...

Despite negotiations, Dallas’s Crown Vic woes appear unabated

     After months of negotiation with the Ford Motor Company, Dallas officials say they remain skeptical as to whether the city’s police officers are any safer driving Crown Victoria patrol cars now than they were before the automaker began implementing needed changes to the vehicles’ gas tanks.

     “If I sound frustrated with Ford, it’s because I am,” said City Attorney Madeleine Johnson, who has brought a suit against the company. “They say one thing in public, and another in sworn testimony. We’ve been at this for months, and we aren’t at all sure that our officers are any safer...”

Life during wartime: scenes from the homefront

      Washington, D.C., police officers put an American flag bearing an image of the World Trade Center and the words “September 11, 2001” atop their police truck as they get ready to patrol an anti-war protest on March 21. (Right) A security guard and a U.S. Park Police officer man a roadblock near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge on March 19, as new counterterrorism measures were put in place.

     A Boston Police boat patrols the harbor near Logan International Airport on March 18 as a plane taxis in the background. (Right) A Metropolitan Police officer takes a flower from an anti-war protester as he places her under arrest for lying down in the street and blocking traffic on H Street in Washington, D.C., on March 21.

Reducing the death toll from non-lethal weapons

     With 12 people dead and dozens injured around the country in recent years by beanbag rounds, the Santa Ana, Calif., Police Department has decided to switch to a less dangerous less-than-lethal weapon.

     The FN 303 Launcher, sold by FNH USA Inc. of McLean, Va., weighs five pounds and uses compressed air to shoot only those projectiles is was designed to fire. It has a red-dot sight and propels a round at 290 feet per second, roughly twice as fast as a beanbag shotgun. The device also has an optimum range of nearly 55 yards. Eight of the $1,500 weapons have been deployed to patrol officers, who began training on them earlier this year.

Peril on the high seize:
Confiscation statute seen as hindrance

     Police and prosecutors in Lincoln County, Ore., argued before the state’s appellate court last month that a law prohibiting the seizure of property in the absence of a criminal conviction is creating an obstacle for law enforcement.

     Measure 3, as it is known, was approved in November 2000 by two-thirds of voters. It amended the state Constitution to require that authorities prove the property they wish to seize is associated with a crime. If no conviction is won, any seized property or cash must be returned. Moreover, local governments and law enforcement are prevented from keeping the proceeds. Under the law, 75 percent must be allocated for drug treatment, education and prevention programs...

Clueless in Seattle:
A fine line between missing person & murder victim

     A series of articles by a Seattle newspaper that exposed the ways in which serial killers get away with murder when police fail to take missing-person reports seriously — particularly those involving teenagers, prostitutes and the homeless — recently led lawmakers and law enforcement officials to discuss how such investigations can be standardized and improved.

     According to the series of 10 articles published by The Seattle Post-Intelligencer in February, local police agencies routinely botch missing-persons cases. The newspaper analyzed reports from 91 Washington agencies, dating back to 1980, of people who have been missing for one year, along with the State Patrol’s master list of 2,000 cases and other databases, and concluded that 130 missing people may have met with foul play, and at least 25 of them at the hands of a serial killer...

Sharply divided High Court makes it official: three strikes & you’re in

     Rejecting constitutional challenges to California’s “three-strikes” law, the U.S. Supreme Court on March 6 upheld the convictions of two men whose petty thievery earned them lengthy third-strike sentences without parole.

     A deeply divided Court ruled 5-4 in the cases of both Gary Albert Ewing and Leandro Andrade...

They may only be rookies, but they’re having an impact

     They still might need some help with writing their reports, and in learning how not to yell into their radios, but New York City police rookies have been key players in a new initiative aimed at saturating high-crime areas with blue uniforms.

     “What we did was an analysis based on historical data — information from our borough and precinct commanders to identify areas that can be helped by a significant uniform presence,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly...

Wary of its closeup
LAPD takes on Hollywood to protect its image

     With an explosion in the past year or so in the number of television shows and movies about cops, which ones will get the imprimatur of an agency like the Los Angeles Police Department? Usually, the ones that show that the badge still has some shine, officials say.

     The LAPD badge and logo were given trademark protection status in 1999, but when it comes to enforcing that legal status, the ground is a little shaky. Under a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the department’s intellectual property can be used in fictional portrayals...

Haves & have-nots:
More level playing field sought for training

     With Colorado ranked nearly last in the nation in terms of funding for in-service law enforcement training, officials have thrown their weight behind a bill that would raise enough money each year to establish a grant program for small, rural departments.

     Senate Bill 103, which passed the House on Feb. 13 and is now before the Senate Appropriations Committee, would impose a 25-cent fee on annual motor vehicle registrations. The money would create a small pool for the Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) board, which has the authority, but not the funding, to conduct continuing education and training. A similar bill introduced by the POST board last year failed in the House by one vote...

Needs of police training & education transcend international boundaries

     Law enforcement trainers and educators from around the world will have a chance to exchange ideas and information under the auspices of a new international organization dedicated to serving the needs of those in the field.

     “As nations begin to cooperate with each other, it becomes clear that the international aspects of delivering education and training to society’s protectors are more important as terrorism reaches virtually every nation,” said Ed Nowicki, executive director of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, which will be headquartered in Twin Lakes, Wis...

The yin & the yang:
Deftly pulling back the curtain on fraud

     The subject is occupational fraud, which encompasses all the ways people on the job can cheat and steal from the organizations for which they work. But defining occupation fraud, Dr. Joseph Koletar notes, can be a problem. Is taking home a paper clip the same as padding an expense account? Is accepting a couple of tickets to a ball game from a supplier as much fraud as using a company car to do some personal shopping? Are perquisites exercised by senior management the same or similar to activities that would be labeled theft or fraud if performed by pink collar, blue collar and hourly employees? Is stealing the secret recipe for Coca-Cola and selling it to Pepsi as much occupational fraud as moles selling state secrets to Osama bin Laden or Fidel Castro?

     Yes to all, Koletar says. Occupational fraud’s impact on the economy is difficult to measure, but Koletar makes the case that it could be as much as $600 million a year, possibly higher, and still growing...

Upcoming Events

      4-7. Economic Crime Summit. Presented by the National White Collar Crime Center. Arlington, VA.

     4-8. Ohio Women’s Law Enforcement Training Conference. Presented by the Ohio Women’s Law Enforcement Network. Columbus, Ohio. $139-$179.