Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXIX, Nos. 599, 600 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY May 15/31, 2003

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Eye-opener in Chicago; heading home; horse trading; Wearing out; a CLEAR favorite; King gives up throne; uncertain exit.
Not-so-Smart case: Salt Lake police faulted for kidnap investigation.
Amber Alert: Bush signs child-protection bill.
Wise up: Report says law enforcement is slow to adopt “smarter” policing.
Over there: U.S. cops wanted for post-war duty in Iraq.
Questions & answers: Seeking to reverse a 3-year climb in DWI deaths.
Second thoughts: Court reverses itself on trooper lawsuits.
Opportunity knocks: Hostage negotiation meets domestic violence, and training is born.
Getting tough: Following a brutal murder, Colorado tries to put the squeeze on police impersonators.
Rocky roads: Lawsuits against gun industry face obstacles, while Bush backs renewed assault-weapon ban.
Hail, seizure: County speeds the pace of civil forfeiture.
Forum: The blue plague of policing; requiem for a warrior.
Click it or...: Fears of racial profiling are said to thwart seat-belt laws.

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The blue plague of American policing

     Cops kill themselves three times more often than other Americans. They suffer more depression, divorce more, and drink more — as many as one in four police officers have alcohol abuse problems. Cops are unhappy. They feel estranged from their departments and from a public eager to find a scapegoat for their own social, economic and political woes. This problem should give pause to everyone, to supporters and critics of the police department alike. Society needs police officers, and we need them to be happy and healthy.

     The numbers are staggering. Lt. Peter J. Pranzo of the New York City Police Department estimates that America’s cops kill themselves at a rate roughly triple the national average. Researchers at the University of Buffalo have found that police officers are eight times more likely to commit suicide than to be killed in a homicide. The most recent U.S. Census estimates that police officers divorce twice as often the national average. The respected researchers J.J. Hurrell and W.H. Kroes say that as many as 25 percent of police officers have alcohol abuse problems. This evidence cannot be ignored. Police officers are suffering from anomie; they believe that society is turning its back on them...

Requiem for a fellow warrior

     There’s a war raging, one you won’t hear about on CNN. In this war, there’s only one combatant, locked in a battle that will have no victor. The warrior is Ruth, my friend and colleague, now in the final round of a fight for her life.

     We were warriors together once — me, Ruth and her husband, Ron — young cops battling in the war zones of Chicago. Barely more than kids then, we believed in what was right, believed enough to fight for it. Those inner-city streets we patrolled were a non-stop reality show of war and crime and the human condition, all around us in living and dying color. We were the ones designated to right what we could, contain the mayhem, and somehow hold on to the belief that, despite all evidence to the contrary, we could make a difference...