Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXX, No. 625 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY Fall 2004

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In this issue:

Sweaty palms: The realism of simulators turns a new corner.
Pay as you go: Are pre-academy programs a boon or bust?
Try, try again: Hartford takes another crack at cultural sensitivity training.
Back to school: Chief fights order to undergo basic training.
Compstat college: Helping Baltimore brass shine brighter.
Help is on the way: Rural Arkansas agencies train to fight terror.
The dark ages: Firearms training needs more low-light emphasis.
Feeling the frenzy: Cops get firsthand taste of mental illness.
Staying ALERRT: Teaching cops to move toward the gunfire.
Finding a home: Sheriff’s site welcomes combat training facility.
Videos that rock: Turning grainy images into useful evidence.
Age is just a number: The appeal of mid-life recruits.
The new slave trade: Seattle team focuses on human trafficking.
Leadership 101: Program supplies what the academy doesn’t.
LEN interview: Kentucky criminal justice training commissioner John W. Bizzack.

Virtual training, real benefit

     The situation may not be real, but the sweaty palms are, according to law-enforcement instructors who say training simulators have become so realistic that officers often forget they are interacting with a video.

     There are many types of simulators around that can train officers in everything from racial profiling to deadly force. Both the Farmington, Conn., Police Department and the Camden County, N.C., Sheriff’s Department use a system called F.A.T.S., an acronym for Firearms Training Simulator. ...

Who wins with “pay as you go” pre-academy training programs?

     Allowing aspiring police officers to complete their physical and classroom training by paying their own way through a pre-academy program before applying to departments might be a boon for municipalities, but prominent police chiefs in two neighboring states disagree as to whether such an approach does the applicant any favors.

     Last spring, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services approved the Pre-Employment Basic Police Training program, an 18-week course offered at a number of community colleges. The program costs participants roughly $3,500 for two semesters, including health, activity and computer fees, and the expense of learning how to drive a patrol car. Weapons, counterterrorism and field training would be continued by the agencies that hire the candidates....

Hartford takes another crack at cultural-sensitivity training

     Cultural-sensitivity training was ordered for all Hartford, Conn., police supervisors in August following a complaint from an officer who claimed his lieutenant had issued him racially-charged instructions during a roll-call.

     The two-hour training block put together by the department and one of Hartford’s community organizations had already been given to community-service officers, their supervisors and the incoming recruit class when Chief Patrick J. Harnett received a written complaint from Officer John Szewczyk Jr. stating that his supervisor, Lt. Stephen Miele, had told him to go after “people who don’t belong downtown.” ...

Hard lessons:
Chief fights order to under basic training

     Members of Connecticut’s Police Officers Standards and Training Council say that the state’s current law and regulations left them no choice but to reject Hartford Police Chief Patrick J. Harnett’s appeal of their decision requiring him to complete basic law-enforcement training.

     A retired New York City police official who spent 32 years in policing before his appointment in Hartford, Harnett filed a legal challenge in Superior Court in New Britain on Oct. 22. ...

Under the spotlight:
Helping brass shine brighter with Compstat

     Baltimore police officials are sending their patrol commanders and other high-ranking officers to a “Compstat college,” where they will learn how to collect crime data, use it in their daily operations and present it to the brass during Compstat meetings.

     The program is being run by Johns Hopkins University’s Division of Public Safety Leadership in cooperation with the Baltimore Police Department. Roughly 20 commanders, including those who head the agency’s organized crime and internal affairs units, began training in September. They will finish before the end of the year....

For rural Arkansas agencies, help is on the way in fighting terrorism

     Millions of dollars in federal grant money are being pouring into two Arkansas programs aimed at educating and training rural law-enforcement officers in the event of a terrorist attack, whether it occurs in cyberspace or on the ground.

     The National Center for Rural Law Enforcement, a part of the University of Arkansas system, was awarded a $2.8-million grant in August to create a mobile training lab that will teach small police agencies how to identify and deal with Internet and electronic terrorism....

Experts say firearms training needs to come out of the dark

     Current research shows that a substantial number of police shootings — particularly those involving unarmed suspects — occur at night or in a darkened setting, yet few law-enforcement agencies train their officers how to shoot under those conditions, according to experts.

     According to data collected by The Houston Chronicle, 59 percent of the 189 shootings that occurred in Harris County from 1999 to 2004 occurred between sunset and sunrise. In at leave five cases involving unarmed suspects, according to the newspaper, officers appeared to have mistaken an object for a gun in low light. ...

Officers get a firsthand taste of the effects of mental illness

     Like many changes in a department’s practices, it started with an incident.

     Two years ago, police in Frederick, Md., were called out to a Goodwill Industries facility where staff members were engaged in a standoff with a mentally disabled male employee. As police confronted him, he swung at an officer. He was subdued and wound up spending the night in jail....

From school shootings to terrorists:
Teaching cops to move toward the gunfire

     Its creation was prompted by the massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School, but a Texas program that trains patrol officers in SWAT maneuvers designed to stop violence as it occurs has since evolved into a potent anti-terrorism stratagem.

     The two-year-old program is called ALERRT, short for Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training. It is taught by SWAT professionals from around the state at a center on the campus of Texas State University at San Marcos....

Combat training facility finds a home with La. sheriff

     The nation’s first combat-training village was erected this summer on the grounds of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Department as part of Louisiana’s regional anti-terrorism center for police and other first responders.

     Called SARTA, short for Southern Anti-Terrorism Regional Training Academy, the facility has trained more than 1,000 Louisiana law-enforcement officers from around the state since it opened in May 2003. Other state and federal officers, as well as military personnel, have been trained there as well. ...

Making videos that rock
Arizona specialists turn grainy images into useful evidence

     The average person may be recorded on camera a dozen times in a given day, but that does not mean those images will be useful in an investigation. They are often grainy, or do not provide police with that one critical detail needed to make a positive identification.

     Remedying that is all in a day’s work for Eddie Burns and Jim Schwalenberg, two Chandler, Ariz., police video technicians turned crime-solvers, who have helped area agencies in more than 200 cases in the past year....

When age is just a number:
The special appeal of mid-life recruits

     The average police recruit may have youthful vigor on his side, but when it comes to seasoning and maturity, no one beats the candidate age 45 and older, according to officials in departments that have opened their doors to candidates seeking a second career in law enforcement.

     Last year, the Mobile, Ala., Police Department graduated 51-year-old Damian Orihuela, a former aircraft maintenance mechanic and Air Force veteran, and 51-year-old Mark Johnson, the former director of the United Way of Southwest Alabama. Orihuela went on to win the Chief’s Award, and Johnson was elected class president during their 20 weeks at the police academy....

How to spot trafficking in human beings
Seattle-based team seeks victims of 21st-century slave trade

     With Seattle recognized by federal, state and local authorities as one of the nation’s hot spots for human trafficking, the city’s police department is training its officers to identify victims from among the many people they come in contact with during the workday.

     The department is part of Seattle’s year-old Trafficking Response Team (TRT), a group that includes federal and county prosecutors, local police, county law enforcement, and non-governmental organizations such as the Red Cross, among others. ...

Every officer a leader:
Supplying what the police academy doesn’t

     They may not have the rank or the experience, yet from the moment rookie police officers hit the streets, they are expected to assume leadership responsibility. Training for that role, however, is not something provided by the police academy, says one veteran law-enforcement educator.

     Enter John Jay College of Criminal Justice and its New York City Police Certificate program. Now in its third year, the tuition-free program gives officers the chance to earn up to 12 credits on either the undergraduate or graduate level. Those credits can be transferred directly toward a college degree....

The LEN interview
Dr. John W. Bizzack
Kentucky’s criminal justice training czar

     LAW ENFORCEMENT NEWS: In March of 2003, the Department of Criminal Justine Training became the nation’s first public safety training academy to be certified by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies — certainly a feather in anyone’s cap. What prompted you to seek this certification?

     BIZZACK: I’ve always been involved with CALEA in one way or another. I was an assessor, and I was an accreditation manager in the Lexington Police Department back in the early 90’s. I had done some national research on the accreditation process and how it has affected and advanced policing. It was initially not intended to extend down to public safety academies in small areas, so they had certification programs. And when I became commissioner here in ’96, we started looking at ways to do this thing for public safety training, as had been done for policing since the mid-80’s. So we got into the process and became a certified public safety training agency. And then CALEA, because of the requests around the country, and partially because of our lead on it, became interested in revamping the standards specifically for a training academy. ...