Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXXI, No. 629 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY February 2005

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
Mass. roundup: Voluntary DNA dragnet seen as key to Cape Cod murder. Page 1.
Try, try again: New York finally eases hardh 1970’s drug laws. Page 4.
When cops are the victims: Prosecutors are ready to step in. Page 4.
Double dose: Bad news on top of bad news in Boston. Page 4.
Baring arms (and more): Houston cops can now get naked with hookers. Page 5.
Sounding the alarm: Verified response comes to California. Page 5.
People & Places: New hands at the helm; oldie but goodie; dual identity; Monroe’s doctrine; model detective; rotten timing; breaking ’em up. Pages 6, 7.
Looking back: James Q. Wilson & George Kelling look at “Broken Windows,” 22 years later. Pages 8, 9.
Making house calls: NYPD sees results against domestic homicide. Page 11.
A click away: Connecticut to put anti-crime info at cops’ fingertips. Page 11.
Virtual reality nightmare: Online rape fantasy raises N.J. concerns. Page 11.
Criminal Justice Library: Stressed-out cops, and one despicable rogue. Page 12.
Forum: Memo to officials — cops vote! Page 13.
Time Capsules: 25 years ago in LEN. Page 15.

The whole shocking story
Growing concern over Taser shakes the faith of some in policing

     Law enforcement’s faith in the Taser stun gun as a near perfect less-than-lethal weapon that can incapacitate a subject but cause little lasting harm has given way in some policing circles to mounting concern over liability, as reports of fatalities and severe injuries incurred after being shocked continue to grow.

     In the past three months, the U.S. Department of Justice said it would study the weapon’s safety, the International Association of Chiefs of Police received a federal grant to create a model policy for Taser use, and a report by Amnesty International report claimed that the Taser has been a factor in 93 deaths over the past four years in the United States and Canada....

DNA seen as key to Mass. murder

     Police in Truro, Mass., say that regardless of the pressure applied by civil libertarians, they will not halt a DNA dragnet launched as a last-ditch effort to solve a vexing three-year-old murder case.

     As of Jan. 11, the department had collected voluntary samples from 175 local men in the hopes that one of them would be a match for the DNA extracted from semen left at the scene of the crime. Fashion writer Christa Worthington, 46, was stabbed to death in her bungalow on Jan. 6, 2002. Her 2-year-old daughter, Ava, was found clinging to her lifeless body. A former boyfriend, along with the married man who is Ava’s father, have been investigated, as have other men....

Try, try again...
NYS finally eases harsh 1970’s drug laws

     After years of trying to change the state’s harsh, 1970s-era drug laws, New York lawmakers finally succeeded in December, but advocates for prison reform were disappointed that the changes that were finally made after so many decades turned out to be relatively modest and seem to affect so few of those serving lengthy, mandated terms.

     There has been little dispute that the laws pushed through in 1973 by then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller were excessive and out of step with the rest of the nation. ...

Prosecutors go to the aid of victimized cops

     Tired of the abuse heaped on the jurisdiction’s law-enforcement officers, Riverside County, Calif., prosecutors have created a special unit that will deal only with those cases in which a deputy is the victim.

     The unit was created in 2003 with a three-year, $750,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. The unit supports two full-time prosecutors, one in Riverside and the other in Indio. Similar programs exist in Tulare and Contra Costa, said Kelly Keenan, Riverside County’s supervising deputy district attorney. ...

Bad news & more bad news for Boston: homicides & citizen dissatisfaction rise

     Just days after the final tally of Boston homicides showed last year to have been the deadliest since 2001, police and city officials received more bad news in the form of a 2003 survey that showed a marked increase in the number of citizen complaints about 911 service, excessive use of force by police, racial profiling and officers’ professionalism.

     The $80,000 survey was conducted by a local market research firm that based its findings on telephone interviews with 2,023 Boston residents. While the police department has commissioned a public-satisfaction poll every two years since 1997, the results have never been widely distributed. Findings from the most recent survey were made public in January following a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Boston Globe. ...

The right to bare arms (and a lot more)
Houston cops are cleared to drop their pants to bag hookers

     Undercover vice officers in Houston have been given the go-ahead to drop their drawers as part of a crackdown on the city’s burgeoning prostitution problem.

     While refusing to discuss the policy change in detail, Assistant District Attorney Ted Wilson said that Chief Harold Hurtt has revised a long-standing but unwritten departmental rule. Vice officers may now disrobe if necessary to persuade suspected prostitutes to negotiate sex acts....

“False” start:
California city puts alarm owners on notice

     Having never been asked to get into it, Fremont, Calif., Police Chief Craig Steckler is not asking anyone’s permission to get out of the burglar alarm-response business which, he says, puts an untenable strain on his agency’s manpower.

     Fremont is believed to be the first California municipality to switch to verified response, a protocol used by nearly two dozen other jurisdictions around the country that requires alarm companies to confirm a break-in or security breach before officers will be deployed to the scene. Calls from manually activated panic, duress or robbery alarms will continue to be treated by police as a high priority. Owners whose systems send false alarms of these types will be subject to fines....

‘Broken Windows,’ 22 years later:

     In its March 1982 issue, The Atlantic Monthly ran a cover story titled “Broken Windows,” by professors James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, which would ultimately change much of police thinking about law enforcement and order maintenance. The phrase “broken windows” itself has assumed a place in the working vocabulary of police. In November 2004, Wilson and Kelling addressed the semi-annual meeting of the Police Executive Research Forum in Los Angeles on the subject of “Broken Windows 22 Years Later,” from which the following transcript is excerpted and adapted.

     James Q. Wilson is the Ronald Reagan Professor of Public Policy at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. He is the author or co-author of 14 books and numerous articles, speeches and research studies. He was a 2003 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor....

House calls pay off for NYPD

     A year-old New York City Police Department policy of making surprise visits to homes with a history of domestic violence has paid off with a 9.5 percent drop in the city’s domestic homicide total last year, and a 1 percent dip in family assaults, officials say.

     Domestic homicides in the city have been falling since 2001. According to the NYPD’s year-end statistics for 2004, such murders have declined by 12 percent since then, and family assaults by 28 percent....

Connecticut anti-crime info will soon be just a mouse-click away

     A wealth of information about those whom Connecticut’s state and local law-enforcement agencies come into contact with will now be at officers’ fingertips, with the development of a new computer tracking system and revisions to the database already in use.

     But that will depend on the state’s ability and willingness to continue funding the project and hire enough staff to facilitate it in the midst of a hiring freeze, according to the president of the Connecticut police chiefs’ association....

When rape fantasy turns from virtual to reality, NJ is ready with felony charges

     After two New Jersey woman narrowly avoided being sexually assaulted by men who believed they were fulfilling an online rape fantasy, state lawmakers passed legislation in January making it a crime to entice anyone over the Internet into committing a sexual offense.

     Last year, local police in Beach Haven pulled over a man parked outside the home of a woman who he said had invited him over the Internet to rape her as part of a fantasy, according to Sgt. Mike Nevil, head of the Ocean County District Attorney’s cyber-crime unit....

Criminal Justice Library
Stressed-out cops, and one despicable rogue

     A challenge awaits the reviewer who looks for something critical to say about a book in its second edition. It is even more challenging to do so when the book is dedicated to someone who had been a long-time colleague. Nonetheless, the book deserves the careful examination that its title addresses.

     Upon opening the shrink wrap that protected the book, as I was about to begin this review, the front cover fell off. The book is bound in stiff boards, which are easily wiped off with a damp cloth, presumably a practical gesture acknowledging the possibility of coffee cups landing on the cover. Clearly attention should be paid to strengthening the binding and the covers....

Time Capsules

     The Justice System Improvement Act of 1979 takes effect, creating the Office of Justice Assistance, Research and Statistics as a new umbrella agency for the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. Also coming under the OJARS lid will be the newly created National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

     The LEAA pours $9 million in grants into a bucket brigade of 35 state and local project aimed at dousing the nation’s growing arson problem. The grants will be used to fund prevention, investigation, prosecution and data collection efforts....