Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXXI, No. 630 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY March 2005

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
Name game: Identity theft is becoming more of a police matter.
Moving targets: LA cops get new rules for shooting at (and from) vehicles.
Ganging up: Rochester delivers an ultimatum to gang-bangers.
Now you see ’em...: Police hiring isn’t keeping pace with retiring.
Problems solved? POST boards tackle decertifying officers with checkered pasts.
No second chances: Discipline code puts Pa. troopers on notice.
School daze: The New Mexico SP wants to keep its college requirement.
People & Places: No time for sergeant; big-screen lawman; the next assignment; language is no barrier; mission accomplished; another slice of life.
In the courts: A roundup of recent criminal justice rulings.
Making minutes count: Warrants just got easier in W. Va. county.
The LEN interview: Fargo, N.D., Police Chief Chris Magnus.
Criminal Justice Library: Mother-and-son con artists; moving ahead with the LAPD.
Forum: The chief’s role in promoting science & technology.

Arresting developments
Administrative headaches, personal concerns drive arrest decisions

     Faced with a booking process that can take a daunting 10½ hours — the most time-consuming in the nation — New York City police officers often decide whether or not to make an arrest on the basis of personal concerns that lay outside the purview of law enforcement, such as family commitments, second jobs or overtime pay, according to research conducted by a former member of the force.

     In the study “What Works for Me? Arrest Decisions as Adaptive Behavior,” Edith Linn posited that NYPD officers engage in a variety of strategies for controlling the number of arrests they make. Those who need to leave at the end of their tour, for example, patrol in a way as to ensure that any arrests they do make will be elective. Conversely, those who seek overtime will patrol in a manner that provides them with plenty of arrests....

Identity theft grows as police issue

     Most people, when their identity is stolen, think credit reporting bureau first and law enforcement second, if at all. But that might change with an increase in the number of states that make filing a police report the first step in a process aimed at helping victims reclaim their identities.

     A report released last year by the Federal Trade Commission found that 27.3 million Americans have had their identities stolen in the past five years, including 9.9 million in 2004 alone. The cost in 2004 to consumers was $5 billion. ...

Moving targets:
LA cops get new rules on shooting at cars

     A new policy adopted by the Los Angeles Police Commission last month places the onus upon officers to justify their actions when they shoot at a moving vehicle.

     Under the new rules, approved unanimously by the five-member commission, shooting at a moving car is now prohibited rather than just discouraged, as the old policy stated. The commission also tightened the rules governing when an officer may shoot from a moving vehicle. ...

Calling a Ceasefire:
Sending gangs the message: Change, or else.

     A strategy for combating gang violence in Rochester, N.Y., is much like basic parenting, says a police spokesman: It relies on telling suspected gang members what will happen if they do not change their behavior, and then making sure that it does.

     With a homicide rate that was the highest per capita for any community in New York state for seven of the past 10 years, Rochester needed a new plan for stemming the violence. In 2003, it began implementing Operation Ceasefire, a program which — with some fine tuning at the local level — had worked well in Boston, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and other jurisdictions where drug trafficking fueled gang warfare....

Departments are being hit hard as hiring fails to keep pace with retiring

     The delicate balance achieved by having enough rookies to replace veterans as they retire has been thrown out of whack by generous compensation packages that make leaving the force more desirable than ever for some officers.

     Among the hardest hit jurisdictions is Houston, where officials expect to see 740 officers — 15 percent of the force — leave within the next two years. The exodus was prompted by a 14 percent pay raise last April. Many of those departing had waited for the increase so that pension benefits would be based on their highest pay level....

Problems solved?
POST boards tackle decertifying officers with checkered pasts

     If ever there was a surefire way to catch the attention of a state’s Peace Officers Standards and Training commission, reporting that a convicted felon was employed as a part-time officer was the way to do it.

     Based on that information, and more than 60 misdemeanor violations of POST rules found by an agency investigator, the Tennessee POST board has taken steps to decertify the entire police department of Burns, Tenn., a four full-time and three part-time member force. The department has 30 days to show why it should remain in place....

No second chances:
New discipline code puts troopers on notice

     Under a “one-strike, you’re out” policy adopted last month as part of sweeping changes in the Pennsylvania State Police disciplinary code, troopers who engage in sexual misconduct, the use of illegal substances, fraud, domestic violence or other practices deemed serious infractions by the agency will be dismissed.

     The new code was developed in response to a scandal that broke in 2003 when former trooper Michael K. Evans was charged in a civil lawsuit with sexually abusing a 14-year-old runaway, a psychiatric patient, and a domestic-assault victim. Records released in the suit found 118 sexual misconduct complaints filed against troopers in the 4,500-member agency from 1995 to 2001. ...

New Mexico SP stands firm on keeping its college requirement for recruits

     A proposal that aims to boost recruitment by reducing the number of college hours required for entry-level New Mexico State Police officers has met resistance from that agency and from the Department of Public Safety.

     As of February, the bill sponsored by Representative Debbie Rodella (D.-San Juan Pueblo) had cleared the House and was on its way to the Senate. It would cut the college requirement from 60 hours to 30. Rodella said her bill will help those potential candidates who would make good officers, but are not academically inclined....

In The Courts

     With the U.S. Supreme Court declining to review, a decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court allowing police to take blood from a drunken driving suspect without a warrant will stand.

     Jacob Faust was pulled over by police in Sheboygan in 2002. Faust, who had already been convicted of two DUIs, was given a preliminary breath test that showed a blood alcohol level of 0.13. A second test given at the department showed a content of 0.09. Police then brought Faust to the hospital without his consent for a blood test that showed a level of 0.10....

Warrants just got easier in W.Va. county

     A new system that assumes everyone scheduled to be arraigned will fail to show up has made the capture of those who actually do cut and run much easier for law enforcement agencies in Kanawha County, W.Va.

     The procedure was established in January by Sheriff Mike Rutherford, who had spent six of his 30-plus years with the sheriff’s department in charge of security at Kanawha County’s judicial building. ...

The LEN interview
Chris Magnus
Police Chief of Fargo, N.D.

     LAW ENFORCEMENT NEWS: Fargo has a significant populations of Romani and Sudanese immigrants — a seemingly unlikely demographic, given the city’s location in the heart of the Upper Midwest. What challenges do they pose to your agency?

     MAGNUS: Well, it does create a certain set of challenges, not only for law enforcement, but for the community overall, when you have so many new people coming in that have so many different kinds of backgrounds, expectations and needs that need to be addressed. There has been somewhat of a change since 9/11 in terms of the rate of resettlement of new Americans and refugees in the community, and I’m not sure it’s been all of a bad thing because we were moving along at such a rapid pace there. We’ve had a little chance to catch our breath....

Criminal Justice Library
The strange realm of the criminal mindset

     Veteran Reuters crime reporter Jeanne King has provided readers with a look into the crime, case build-up, and trial of one of the strangest, most sensational crime sprees in recent history. The focus of her book is the trial and conviction of the mother-and-son team of Sante and Kenneth Kimes for the bizarre murder of Irene Silverman, whose New York mansion they were attempting to steal. Ms. King uses trial transcripts as well as her own personal start-to-finish experience of covering the crime for her news service to offer a unique view into the bizarre mindset of the killers, as well as the ingenious and determined efforts of the New York City Police Department’s “Silver Task Force” to bring the Kimeses to justice.

     While the book lays out the story in essentially chronological fashion, the author leapfrogs among exposition and biographical sketches, the glitzy locales and the courtrooms, exhaustively detailing the Kimeses’ crimes. Using court records and other factual information to begin her telling of the story of Sante and Kenneth Kimes, the book is an ugly tale of common grifters with uncommon talents. The author employs many dynamics: the Kimeses’ cons and petty thefts, their deeply pathological mother-son relationship, and intrigue over the Silverman murder all keep the reader entertained....