Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXX, No. 623 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY September 2004

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

In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
No mere oversight: Denver gets plan for police monitor. Page 1.
Thrust & parry: Traffic cameras & the motorists who try to foil them. Page 1.
Now you see it: Revenue stream dries up for NY towns. Page 1.
Oops: ATF loses track of explosives, gun dealers. Page 4.
The long haul: Will Riverside opt to keep its review board? Page 4.
Sweet revenge: Humans may be hard-wired for vengeance. Page 4.
Law enforcement, ink: Agency rethinks policy on officers’ tattoos. Page 5.
Keeping tabs: Cops track hookers, who return the favor. Page 5.
People & Places: He’s got game; Sterling addition; cutting their losses; staying nearby; the real blue knight; race-bias twists & turns. Pages 6, 7.
The master plan: Recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. Page 8.
LEN interview: Terrorism expert Brian M. Jenkins. Pages 9-11.
Short Takes: Easy-to-digest news capsules. Page 12.
Forum: The need for a homeland security auxiliary; what the 9/11 panel missed. Page 13.

More than a hunch
Researchers examine basis for ‘police intuition’

     Some law-enforcement officers seem to possess a “sixth sense” that tells them when they are in danger, if a passing car is hot, or if a suspect is lying. But is there really such as a thing as policing “intuition”? Preliminary research conducted by the National Institute of Justice and the FBI offers some intriguing clues, yet seems to pose more questions than can as yet be answered.

     In “Emotional/Rational Decision Making in Law Enforcement,” Dr. Anthony J. Pinizzotto and Edward F. Davis, a senior psychologist and an instructor with the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, and Charles E. Miller, an instructor in the bureau’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, posit that “intuitive policing,” in fact, represents a decision-making process that police find difficult to explain to others outside of law enforcement. Actions and behaviors exhibited by criminals send danger signals, the authors say, even before officers are consciously aware of them. ...

Oversight planned for Denver PD

     An independent monitor, a civilian oversight board, and a pool of citizens who would serve on different police review boards are key elements of a master plan unveiled by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper in August for reforming the city’s long-beleaguered police department.

     The overhaul of the civilian review system was prompted by two fatal shootings in the past 15 months. In July 2003, a mentally-disabled 15-year-old, Paul Childs, was shot and killed when he refused to put down a knife. The officer, James Turney, was suspended without pay for 10 months. Officers were as outraged by the punishment as community members were by the department’s failure to terminate Turney....

Traffic cameras look for violators, but will they be able to ‘see’ them?

     In the ongoing skirmish of thrust, parry and counter between traffic-enforcing police and motorists intent on foiling them, jurisdictions nationwide are increasingly employing cameras to record and ticket violators, while drivers turn to a variety of products that make their license plates virtually impossible for those devices to read.

     Among the products that are currently available are PhotoBlocker, Photo Fog and PhotoStopper. They work by reflecting back the flash of the automated cameras. The effect is supposedly similar to taking a flash photograph in front of a mirror. ...

High on speed:
New York State giveth — and taketh away

      New legislation which deprives New York’s municipalities of the money they collect through speeding violations and instead diverts it into a state fund will place a tremendous burden on towns and cities, warned the state’s chiefs association this month.

     Under the 2004-05 budget approved by lawmakers in August, municipalities may no longer keep the fines from traffic convictions that have been pleaded down to non-moving violations. The change, effective immediately, is projected to cost local governments an estimated $12 million to $22.8 million a year. ...

ATF losing track of explosives, gun dealers

     The theft of 200 pounds of explosives from a remote facility used by the San Mateo County, Calif., Sheriff’s Department, the San Francisco Police Department and the FBI has sparked calls from members of Congress for greater federal control over storage of such items by local law-enforcement agencies.

     A federal grand jury in Oakland indicted four men in July on multiple counts of conspiracy to steal, possess and transport explosives, possession of stolen explosives and unlicensed receipt of explosives, among other charges. ...

Community, police differ on keeping review board around for the long haul

     Riverside, Calif., residents will get the chance in November to vote on whether or not to keep alive their three-year-old Community Police Review Commission by adding the agency to the city’s charter.

     Adding the review commission question to the upcoming ballot represents a reversal of the decision made by the municipality’s Charter Review Committee in July. While the commission has support from the community, the city’s police union continues to be vehemently opposed to it....

Not only sweet, revenge may be innate

     Don’t get mad, get even. It’s more than just a familiar catchphrase — the desire for revenge and the satisfaction one gets from balancing the scales is deeply rooted in the human brain, according to a number of recent studies.

     In an article published in the Aug. 27 issue of the journal Science, a research team from Zurich, Switzerland, found that anticipating an act of vengeance activates the same area of the brain, called the striatum, that is stimulated when someone snorts cocaine or thinks he will receive money....

Law enforcement, ink.
Cultural change may play role in agency policy on tattoos

     Kentucky’s governor has asked the State Police Commissioner to reevaluate a two-year-old policy that prohibits state police officers from sporting visible tattoos.

     Gov. Ernie Fletcher cited “cultural changes” in the population as the basis for the request. ...

Keeping tabs:
Cops track hookers, who return the favor

     Some Missouri prostitutes apparently turned the tables on county law enforcement, after a bust revealed an Internet database listing the names, cell phones numbers and make and model of cars driven by undercover vice detectives.

     St. Louis County police had been tracking two women from Springfield via email, message boards and Web sites. But the suspects were wary, making it difficult for officers to set up an appointment. Finally a rendezvous was arranged in August in a Maryland Heights hotel. When money was accepted, investigators raided the room. They found two laptop computers, one of them containing the Web site. ...

Seeking a master plan to fight terrorism

     (Following are among the key law enforcement-related recommendations from the 9/11 Commission Report. References are to page numbers in the authorized edition published by W.W. Norton & Company. The report is also available on the commission’s Web site, at

     Vigorous efforts to track terrorist financing must remain front and center in U.S. counterterrorism efforts. The government has recognized that information about terrorist money helps us to understand their networks, search them out, and disrupt their operations…. (382)...

The LEN interview
Brian M. Jenkins
Rand Corporation terrorism expert

     LAW ENFORCEMENT NEWS: You have been warning the country about terrorism since the 1970s, yet it seems that no one listened. Why have we so grossly underestimated the threat?

     ENKINS: I wouldn’t say that no one listened. I think there was gradually increasing government attention being paid to the issue. I wrote some memoranda about this, gave a number of briefings and suggested at the very beginning of the 1970s that terrorism was likely to increase, become increasingly international and could affect us and our allies in a variety of ways, and therefore this was a phenomenon that we should take a closer look at.

Then there were two particularly shocking episodes in 1972 that really galvanized the world and the U.S. government to address the problem in a more systematic fashion. There had, of course, been incidents of international terrorism before that — kidnappings of American diplomats in Latin America and elsewhere, numerous hijackings of airliners, bombs going off in this country and abroad — so one only had to take a few small steps beyond the headlines of the day to suggest without being prescient that this was a growing phenomenon, and I outlined why I thought it was increasing and likely to increase. As I say, people were addressing it, but it was a threat that did not match our institutions. And that’s always a problem.

Short Takes

     The spectrum of information available through weather radios that often sell for less than $100 will be broadened to include news about such man-made emergencies as chemical spills, breakdowns in the 911 system, terrorist attacks and changes in the color-coded national threat level, under an agreement reached recently between the Department of Homeland Security and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

     Approximately 15 percent to 20 percent of Americans own weather radios, which alert listeners to tornadoes, floods and other natural disasters. Ownership is particularly high among those who live in coastal areas. ...