Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXXI, No. 633 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY June 2005

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
No fueling: Weighing the options as gas prices climb.
Learning from experience: More vets needed for Mass. influx of rookies.
Knocking down barriers: Oakland PD changes fitness standard.
Small idea: Added realism for tabletop training.
Sharing the load: Pa. police get their crime-control message across.
Crash course: County is fed up with glitch-plagued CAD system.
End of an era? Autonomous housing police forces are dying off.
People & Places: Tale of the dog; playing catch-up; there ought to be a law; like father, like son; swords into plowshares; going, gone.
Short Takes: Easy-to-digest news capsules.
Giving the FBI the finger: Serial killer eludes the IAFIS database.
Keeping current: Aging posters to stay on top of long-gone fugitives.
Criminal Justice Library: Leadership lessons; problems meet solutions.
Forum: Female offenders and ‘decarceration.’
Continuing fallout: New wrinkles in Oklahoma City bombing case.
Home is where? Fake addresses to aid Nevada stalking victims.

Life imitates art with the “CSI effect”

     Police, prosecutors and crime labs are finding themselves in the increasingly awkward position of having to imitate a hit television program’s artful and largely exaggerated depiction of how a crack forensic science unit operates. Experts call it the “CSI effect.”

     Having followed the TV show “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and its offshoots, “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: New York,” the public, experts say, has begun to demand that police and prosecutors conduct the kind of high-tech forensic tests they see on TV characters doing eweek....

No fueling around
Departments weigh their options as gas prices climb

     The high price of gasoline has already put a serious dent in the fuel budgets of the country’s law enforcement agencies, but few departments say they have reached the point of having to implement a drastic backup plan: conserving gas by limiting patrols.

     Gasoline prices fell nationwide in May by nearly 5 cents to an average of $2.18 a gallon, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Though welcome news, it does not change the fact that many police and sheriff’s departments have burned through far more of their budgets during the first four months of this year than had been planned....

More vets needed for Mass. influx of rookies

     Massachusetts police departments, already struggling to maintain staffing levels in the face of a wave of retirements of those who entered the profession during the 1970s, may yet see that problem compounded, as an influx of rookies to take their place creates an imbalance between raw and seasoned officers, experts say.

     In Braintree, 12 officers have been hired in the past year and the department hopes to hire six more before the end of 2005. The Quincy Police Department, which lost 17 officers to retirement this year, has hired nine and wants 17 more. Other agencies, including Kingston, Freetown, and Holbrook have each added at least two to their ranks, and have lost at least two officers to attrition this year....

One less barrier to climb for Oakland PD recruits

     The tough physical skills requirements for entrance into the Oakland, Calif., police academy got a little easier in April when the department agreed with critics that if scaling a 6-foot wall was such a vital part of the job, then veteran officers should be tested on their ability to do it, too.

     Oakland is recruiting to fill 63 officer positions authorized by the passage last November of Measure Y. The ballot initiative, which was approved by nearly 70 percent of voters, raises property and parking taxes. The $20 million a year it is expected to bring in will fund crime prevention programs as well as police. ...

Tabletop training gets a small-scale dose of added reality

     Their miniature rural and urban landscapes might look like something a model-railroad enthusiast would build for fun, but the tabletop layouts created by a Pennsylvania-based company serve the very serious purpose of training first responders in emergency preparedness.

     All of the nation’s public safety agencies are required in the event of a disaster to follow the same protocol. The directive, known as the National Incident Management System, or NIMS, was signed into law by President Bush following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. ...

Sharing the load:
Police get their crime-control message across

     The message that Lebanon, Pa., police officials have long tried to get across to city leaders was finally received in March after a crime commission report two years in the making declared that controlling crime is everyone’s job, not just the responsibility of local law enforcement.

     Using the Broken Windows theory as a framework, the 220-page report makes five key recommendations for improving the city’s safety and quality of life. They include increasing Lebanon’s drug and alcohol outreach and rehabilitation facilities; stabilizing neighborhoods and increasing home ownership; investing in a city revitalization plan; addressing the lack of accountability in the city’s juvenile justice system; and reducing the juvenile and adult recidivism rates....

Crash course in CAD acquisition
Va. county is fed up with glitch-plagued dispatch system

     A multimillion-dollar Altaris computer-aided dispatch system that runs so poorly Fairfax, Va., public safety employees dubbed it “Al-terrible” may wind up on the scrap heap once a new county dispatch center opens in 2007.

     The $3.2-million CAD system was installed just a year ago by PRC Public Sector, a McLean-based firm now a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Information Technology. County officials bypassed the competitive bidding process and awarded PRC the contract in 2000 on the basis of its 16-year relationship with the Fairfax County Police Department....

Endangered species:
End of an era for housing police forces?

     The dwindling number of public-housing police departments in the United States got still smaller recently when the Buffalo, N.Y., Municipal Housing Authority voted in March to eliminate the agency’s 26-member force due to budget constraints.

     Housing police that operate as separate entities from municipal law enforcement agencies seem to have become as rare as the ivory-billed woodpecker in recent years. ...

Short Takes

     Police in Buffalo, N.Y., are using a century-old Bawdy House Law to keep those arrested for illegal drug activity from returning to their homes.

     Under the statute, used in the early 1900s to close down brothels, a landlord must begin eviction proceedings within 10 days. If not, city officials can take the case to Housing Court, where owners could face a $5,000 fine....

Accuracy rate is small comfort:
Serial killer gives IAFIS the slip — 3 times

     The FBI’s claim of a 95 percent accuracy rate for its automated fingerprint database was cold comfort to the friends and family of four women who were murdered by a serial killer who was freed three times because the computerized system failed to identify him correctly.

     FBI officials last month confirmed that the fingerprints of Jeremy Bryan Jones, 32, were tracked at their database in Clarksburg, W.Va....

Dorian Gray, eat your heart out. . .
Keeping current with long-gone fugitives

     The criminals get older, but their wanted posters never seem to — but all that’s changing with a Michigan State Police project that uses the techniques of age-progression drawing to present a more realistic version of what a fugitive might look after years on the run.

     “The reason we do these are, for the most part, these people are still absconders for years and years and they are still on the loose,” said Detective Sgt. Mark Krebs, one of the eight officers who make up the Forensic Art Program. “We don’t know where they are, we don’t know if they’re dead or not, we just happen to have lost contact with them. Some of the fugitives, they’ve been gone over 20 years.”...

Criminal Justice Library
Leadership lessons from today’s urban generals

     No other profession has a more dire need for leadership skills than policing, and Haberfeld makes that point loud and clear in her new book, “Police Leadership.” Haberfeld offers and explores theories through the experiences of police chiefs who are well known either for their personal achievements or the situations they oversaw, making this particular contribution to existing works on the topic a most unique approach.

     “Police Leadership” is a template for street-level officers, chiefs and commissioners. It’s also a template on how to look at a given situation and adopt an informed perspective. Leadership in the field of policing is always a clash between doing things right and doing the right thing. This work will provide readers with the opportunity to focus on the issue of situational integrity from the various examples and allow the practitioner to emulate, modify and even customize their leadership actions for a particular or relevant situation. ...

More egg on the FBI’s face?
Fallout continues from Oklahoma bombing

     Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols last month told a woman who had lost two grandchildren in the 1995 explosion that a third man had participated in the plot, an Arkansas gun collector who supplied some of the materials used in the blast.

     Nichols, who is serving multiple life sentences at the supermaximum-security prison in Florence, Colo., has corresponded with the woman, Kathy Sanders, in the past. Sanders, the author of book titled, “After Oklahoma City,” has served as a conduit for Nichols, she told The Associated Press, because she hopes he will reveal more about the bombing that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building....

Nevada stalking victims to get protection with fake addresses

     Nevada lawmakers last month expanded to include those terrorized by stalkers a program that protects domestic violence and rape victims by giving them false addresses.

     Under the measure signed by Gov. Kenny Guinn, stalking victims will have their mail picked up and forwarded from a Carson City post office box by the secretary of state’s office. The postal box address will appear on all official documentation, including driver’s licenses....