Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXIX, Nos. 597 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY April 15, 2003

[LEN Home] - [Masthead] - [Past Issues] SUBSCRIBE

In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Famed sculptor makes his bones; armchair sleuth fights identity theft; back to DC for ex-Marine; city’s loss is feds’ gain; getting back into the game; friction is just fiction.
Corporal punishment: Sheriff gets in hot water over rank changes.
Chicken & egg: Iowa wrestles with whether training or hiring should come first.
A handle on hate: IACP offers bias guide.
“Ground zero” for the homeless: LA sheriff wants a full service center for street people.
No magic numbers: Police get out of the head-counting business.
The eye of the beholder: Second-guessing dogs police response to tractor standoff.
Stay in school: Tulsa will stick with college requirement for airport cops.
Going public: Utah may put its court records on the Web.
Fluid response: Rhode Island police want more leeway on DUI blood tests.
Sniff test: The feds roll out anti-bioterror advances.
Forum: Cliché policing puts the answers before the questions.
Heading for the exit: Budget gaps lead to early release for some inmates.
Oops: Police chemist says she didn’t understand blood tests she conducted.

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.


Cliché policing: Putting answers before questions

     As Gertrude Stein lay on her deathbed, a friend asked her, “Gertrude, what’s the answer?” Gertrude replied, “What’s the question?” In our media driven world, politicians and bureaucrats are addicted to the answer-before-question quick fix before taking time to really understand a problem. The result is that often the solution does more harm than the problem itself.

     This rush to solution-before-problem is a primary flaw of politics and policing. Examples: In the United States, Prohibition in the 1920s; Rodney King, Waco and Ruby Ridge in the 1990s. In Canada, the Firearms Registry, which was supposed to cost $2 million but ended up at $1 billion and growing. In the process, 2 million new criminals are created because many law-abiding gun owners refuse to register. In all cases, the overkill solution caused many times more social and financial harm than the problem ever could have. The first place bureaucrats look for solutions to their problems is the public’s pocket. Rarely do they suggest working harder or smarter themselves as the solution...