Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXIX, Nos. 605, 606 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY September 15/30, 2003

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
People & Places: Scare tactics; San Diego welcome mat; Mom was wrong; time’s up; Mr. & Mrs. Chief; a new challenge.
In your favor: How to drive up approval ratings.
Exit wounds: High-tech glass keeps bullets out of the cruiser but lets cops inside shoot back.
Make that call: John Walsh & AMW are still going strong.
Matrix reloaded: Florida database makes for a much faster fishing expedition.
9/11 plus 2: A roundup of anti-terrorism developments.
Inching along: Minnesota’s nascent CriMNet could be imperiled by deep budget cuts.
Singing the blues: Why morale is sagging among Baltimore cops.
Show me the money: Flap over race data may take a back seat to funding issues.
Forum: Collaboration is the core of successful community-oriented policing.
Upcoming Events: Professional development opportunities.
Dogged analyses: Some practices may have improved, but county has far to go in other areas.
Lawn enforcement news: A DIY approach to code violations.

Unanswered prayers
Police officials say anti-terror needs are still unmet

     Queried some 18 months after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, municipal law enforcement officials believe that a lack of interoperable data and communication systems, as well as the failure of the government to provide additional funding to pay for specialized equipment, has left them inadequately prepared to either prevent or respond to another terrorist attack.

     The findings, released in June, came from 4,500 departments that responded to the Homeland Security Preparedness Survey, a questionnaire sent earlier this year to more than 17,000 state, local, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies by the International Association of Chiefs of Police...

Va. tries to avoid double-whammy for growing ranks of identity theft victims

     As if falling prey to identity theft weren’t bad enough in itself, some victims may end up being doubly wronged when they find themselves subject to arrest and potential harm from police based on fraudulent information accessed from electronic databases. To help these victims, Virginia’s attorney general’s office has begun issuing documents, called Identity Theft Passports, that can go a long way in convincing law enforcement agencies that they are chasing the wrong individual.

     So far, three of the passports have been issued, with 12 more under consideration, according to Carrie Cantrell, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore. The documents are issued by a judge and carry the attorney general’s seal...

Ethics campaign focuses on stupid mistakes

     Cops are a lot better at jumping into gun battles than they are at preventing their partners from “doing something stupid,” particularly when involved in an emotionally-charged situation, says Deputy Chief Keith Bushey of the San Bernardino County, Calif., Sheriff’s Department, who is spearheading a nationwide police ethics campaign aimed at keeping officers from making critical errors in judgment.

     Members of the sheriff’s department participated in a production in July that had all the trappings of a Hollywood movie. Playing themselves, they acted out a number of scenarios in front of the cameras in which they stopped a fellow officer from crossing an ethical line...

How to drive up approval ratings

     Neighborhood disorder, not demographics, is the factor that most affects residents’ opinions of local law enforcement, according to a new study by the National Institute of Justice, which found that police can raise their approval ratings by participating in many of the activities that have long been tenets of the community-policing philosophy.

     In “Factors That Influence Opinion of the Police,” researchers from the University of California at Irvine and the University of Southern California chose four of the Los Angeles Police Department’s 18 geographic areas that reflect contrasting rates of reported violent and property crimes, as well as differences in race and income...

They can’t shoot you, but you can shoot back at them

     New Orleans police officials are said to be strongly in favor of retrofitting cruisers with a new type of glass which — with a nod to the Terminator — can stop bullets fired at vehicles while allowing officer inside to return fire.

     Developed by Labock Technologies Inc., a Florida-based company, OneWay Glass, as the material is called, also reseals itself after a shot has passed through it...

After 15 years, Walsh still wants US to “make that call”

     Critics may rant that “America’s Most Wanted,” now in its 16th year on the air, fans the flames of vigilantism, but that has not stopped the public from tuning in each week and heeding host John Walsh’s plea to “make that call.”

     Walsh, whose 6-year-old son Adam was murdered by a pedophile who snatched him from a Florida mall in 1981, has become a cultural symbol, and the crime-fighting show is the longest-running reality program on television. When executives at the Fox network considered canceling it in 1996, the governors of 34 states joined with fans and law enforcement officials in a plea to keep the show on the air...

The Matrix reloaded: Florida database goes into warp speed

     With the creation of a new counter-terrorism database that combines police records with commercially available files on most American adults, law enforcement investigators will have a formidable new tool at their disposal.

     The Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, dubbed the Matrix, can uncover links and patterns among people and events at a phenomenal speed. It would be possible, for example, to find instantly the name and address of every brown-haired owner of a red Ford pickup truck in a 20-mile radius of a suspicious event...

9/11 plus 2: a terrorism update

     Congress and the Bush Administration have taken up the task of untangling the various systems that determine the pay and benefits of the 24,000 law enforcement officers whose agencies are now part of the Department of Homeland Security.

     According to a recent report by the General Accounting Office, a review of 13 federal police forces in the Washington, D.C., area, including the U.S. Capitol Police, the Library of Congress Police and Supreme Court Police, fozund that entry-level salaries ranged from a high of $39,427, to a low of $28,801...

Minnesota data net inches along
Budget cuts could slow completion of statewide system

     Proponents of a database network that would link all of the various branches of Minnesota’s criminal justice system fear that deep funding cuts imposed on the project by state lawmakers could jeopardize its completion within the next few years.

     Called CriMNet, the system would eventually connect the state’s 1,100 criminal justice jurisdictions through a secure intranet system. The database currently includes probation and detention records from all of Minnesota’s 87 counties, as well as a number of programs currently available only to those law enforcement agencies that subscribe...

Down in the dumps:
Baltimore cops are singing the blues

     Baltimore rank-and-file officers and commanders concede that the city’s new police commissioner, Kevin P. Clark, stepped into the frying pan when he took the reins of an agency whose members are working without a contract in a city in the middle of a budget crunch, but they are still cutting him little slack.

     Clark is the second outsider appointed to lead the department by Mayor Martin O’Malley. Earlier this year, he succeeded Edward T. Norris, a fellow former New York City police commander, who is now superintendent of the Maryland State Police...

Flap over race-data analysis may take a back seat to funding questions

     The Connecticut Police Association has raised the question of why new legislation has directed that racial data from traffic stops be sent to a minority affairs agency rather than the Chief State’s Attorney’s office, but the issue may be rendered moot in the absence of a funding allocation.

     The Alvin Penn Racial Profiling Prohibition Act, passed in May, continues to ban police agencies from practicing bias in their enforcement efforts. But unlike the 1999 legislation promoted by Penn, a Bridgeport Democrat who died of cancer in February, the current bill does not set aside money for either the state’s attorney’s office, which will continue to keep the records as it has for the past four years, or the African American Affairs Commission, which has been charged with conducting the analyses...

Upcoming Events:

     15-16. Advanced Internal Affairs: Proactive Steps for Corruption Prevention. Presented by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Springfield, Ill.

     15-17. Use of Force Instructor Certification Course. Presented by the National Criminal Justice Training Council. Cleveland. $495...

K-9 practices have improved, but county has far to go in other areas

     In addition to improving its K-9 policy, the long-troubled Prince George’s County, Md., Police Department will also have to come up with a plan for promptly filling vacancies, hiring more officers and incorporating a community-policing philosophy throughout the agency if it wants to turn itself around, according to two separate studies released in August.

     The first, conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), found that the department had made significant strides since modifying its training of K-9 officers and changing its deployment methods three years ago. These included a switch from “find and bite” to a “guard and bite” approach, in which dogs are taught to keep subjects at bay, biting only if they flee or attack. Rules as to when dogs can be used were also tightened; they can no longer be used in cases involving petty crimes. The number of supervisors in the unit was increased from three sergeants to five, and each biting incident is investigated by a supervisor and top officials...

Lawn enforcement news: The DIY approach to code violation

     The Sarasota County, Fla., Sheriff’s Department is taking a do-it-yourself approach to code enforcement.

     Under a new initiative that grew out of the agency’s community policing efforts, a handful of deputies have been trained in how to write citations for code violations. A pilot program in the county’s north side is now underway, according to Sgt. Chuck Lesaltato, a sheriff’s spokesman...