Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXXI, No. 634 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY July 2005

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
Boston post-mortem: Less-than-lethal doesn’t mean non-lethal. Page 1.
The heat is on: New problem with fiery Crown Vics. Page 1.
Mixed message: Officers reinstated in stat fix. Page 4.
Matrix resurrected? Seeking a successor to anticrime database. Page 4.
Home, sweet home: St. Louis officers win easing of residency rules. Page 5.
Kid gloves: Changes urged in LAPD discipline. Page 5.
Color-coding: Does Oklahoma criminal justice have it in for blacks? Page 5.
People & Places: Ready for a closeup; on to academia; seeking stability; money talks, chief walks; second time’s the charm; back to the front; best & brightest. Pages 6, 7.
Time Capsules: 25 years ago in LEN. Page 7.
Where they don’t belong: Illegal immigrants face trespass charges. Page 8.
Tragedy’s legacy. Tacoma pushes family justice project. Page 10.
Short Takes: Easy-to-digest news capsules. Page 11.
New dimensions: Crime databases expand in Baltimore, NYC. Page 11.
Criminal Justice Library: Governing by network; psychology & the law. Page 12.
Forum: Summer variations in crime. Page 13.
Dogs & decrees: PERF eyes use of force. Page 14.

10-codes’ days may be numbered
Homeland security concerns drive movement toward plain-talk

     Where would Broderick Crawford of “Highway Patrol” fame, or any other cop, for that matter, be without a snappy “10-4” to signal an affirmative response? The country will soon find out.

     The “10-codes” used for over 50 years by police and other first-responders to communicate in shorthand over the radio are being phased out and replaced by plain talk under a directive from the Department of Homeland Security that seeks to have all public safety agencies speaking the same language....

Boston post-mortem:
'Less-than-lethal' doesn't mean 'non-lethal'

     Among numerous errors in training, planning and execution made by Boston police that led to the death of 21-year-old Victoria Snelgrove last fall was their mistaking a weapon that was less-than-lethal for one that was non-lethal, according to a report released in May by an independent panel.

     Snelgrove, a student at Emerson College, was among the revelers who gathered outside of Fenway Park on Landsdowne Street on Oct. 21, 2004, to celebrate the Red Sox’ victory over the New York Yankees for the American League Championship. An officer who had targeted a troublemaker moving through the crowd missed his shot, hitting Snelgrove instead with the pepper-ball projectile from his FN303 air gun. She died hours later....

Ford feels the heat as new problem arises with flammable Crown Vics

     Dashboard insulation that could potentially catch fire when overheated prompted the recall in May of law enforcement’s most commonly used patrol car, the Ford Crown Victoria.

     More than 150,000 of the vehicle’s 2003-2005 models were recalled by the Ford Motor Co. when the car manufacturer received a small number of reports about the problem. Not all of the vehicles were being used by police. The vehicle is specifically designed for use by law enforcement and as taxi-cabs. ...

Get the message?
NOPD officers reinstated in crime-stat fix

     When city and police officials in New Orleans fired five officers and demoted a sixth for downgrading crime statistics, they believed they were sending a message that such behavior would not be tolerated. But that message has been hopelessly compromised, says one well-placed observer, by the officers’ reinstatement less than two years later.

     The city and police department in May announced that Capt. Norvel Orazio, Lt. Michael Glasser, Sgt. Aaron Blackwell, Sgt. Gary Le Rouge and Officer Stephen Kriebel would receive full back pay, along with a return to their previous ranks and seniority. A probationary lieutenant who was demoted to officer and suspended, William Ceravolo, will be returned to his rank, as well....

Matrix resurrected? Florida looks for successor to anticrime database

     With the controversial anticrime database known as Matrix having been officially shut down in April, Florida law enforcement officials are now soliciting proposals from private firms that could help police obtain the personal credit and insurance information that Matrix had provided.

     Matrix, short for Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, began three years ago with 13 states and was down to just four — Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and Connecticut — before its plug was pulled amid privacy concerns and cost....

Home, sweet home
St. Louis officers win easing of residency rules

     A 32-year fight between the St. Louis Police Department and its officers was finally settled in April when the city’s police commissioners voted 3-2 to eliminate a much disputed residency rule.

     The regulation required that police live within city limits and had been fought by the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association since its enactment in 1973....

Kid gloves:
LAPD monitor calls for disciplinary changes

     Until changes can be made to the City Charter that would fundamentally alter the way Los Angeles police officers are disciplined, Chief William J. Bratton should use whatever powers are at his disposal to punish problem officers, the agency’s federal monitor suggested recently.

     In a report issued in May, Michael Cherkasky concluded that the LAPD’s system for disciplining officers was slow and ineffective. Under the current system, a three-member Board of Rights — not the chief — makes the final determination as to whether or not an officer is punished....

Study ponders whether Oklahoma criminal justice has it in for blacks

     Blacks in Oklahoma are treated more harshly than whites at nearly every stage of the criminal justice process, according to a study released in April by the state’s Criminal Justice Resource Center.

     Researchers examining recent data from Oklahoma’s criminal justice system found that blacks are 30 percent more likely to be stopped by police; 70 percent more likely to be searched after a traffic stop; and 40 percent more likely to be arrested. As defendants, they are 20 percent more likely to be convicted of a felony, and 20 percent more likely to be sentenced to prison. ...

Time Capsules

     Amid rising nationwide concern about police use of force, the Los Angeles Police Department begins arming its officers with the PR-24 side-handle baton. Officials see the weapon as offering the potential for more humane and more effective handling of violent suspects.

     John Jay College of Criminal Justice gets final approval for a plan to create a Ph.D. program in criminal justice. With more than a year to go before its scheduled launch date of fall 1981, the doctoral program already has more than 300 applications for its first 20 slots....

To some New Hampshire cops, if you’re in the U.S. illegally, you’re trespassing.
On the front lines with the Minuteman Project

     A fifth undocumented alien was charged last month with violating a state criminal trespass law in the town of Hudson, N.H., one of two jurisdictions in the state where the unorthodox approach to handling illegal immigrants has garnered national attention.

     The first to use the tactic was New Ipswich Police Chief W. Garrett Chamberlain. On April 15, his officers arrested Jorge Mora Ramirez, 21, whose car had broken down while he was driving through the town. Ramirez told police that he was in the U.S. illegally and worked for a construction company. Federal authorities declined to take custody of Ramirez, so Chamberlain had him charged with criminal trespass. ...

Murderous ex-chief’s legacy:
Tacoma pushes family justice initiative

     Tacoma officials are determined to make good on a promise, tendered in the wake of the murder-suicide in 2003 of the city’s police chief and his wife, that victims of domestic violence would have a convenient, one-stop facility for services.

     Called the Family Justice Center, the project is a joint effort by the city of Tacoma and Pierce County. Once an agreement is signed to formalize the partnership between the two jurisdictions, a five-member board of directors will be impaneled, including two elected officials from Tacoma and two from the county; the fifth member will be jointly selected....

Short Takes

     Hair samples, rather than urine specimens, will be collected by the New York City Police Department under a new system of drug testing set to begin in August.

     Radio immunoassay of hair, as the process is called, is considered a more effective method of determining whether an officer has been using cocaine, heroin, Ecstasy, marijuana or PCP. It can detect drugs in the body up for up to three times as long as a urinalysis — 90 days as compared to 30 days. ...

Crime databases take on new dimensions in Baltimore & New York

     Law enforcement and other branches of the criminal justice system in Baltimore and New York City will soon be able to access up-to-the minute information on known criminals and suspects, as well as sentencing records and conviction rates, from newly created databases.

     Baltimore’s Citistat system already allows police and civilians to look up local crime statistics on line. But in May, the department and city officials unveiled a new program that will give officers, and eventually others, a chance to view the back end of the city’s criminal justice system....

Psych job:
When psychology crosses paths with law

     At the outset, allow me to declare my bias. Since one of the authors in the “Handbook of Forensic Psychology,” edited by William O’Donohue and Eric Levison, cited a recently published article that I wrote with a colleague, I assume that both the editors and their chosen authors have very sound judgment and great perspicacity.

     Having declared this positive bias, I feel free to adopt a more dispassionate, critical stance....

From dogs to decrees, PERF takes a new look at use-of-force issues

     Police dogs represent a serious use of force, but they are noticeably absent from the force continuums issued by most departments, according to former Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., Chief Dennis Nowicki, one of a number of law enforcement executives and researchers who contributed to “Chief Concerns: Exploring the Challenges of Police Use of Force,” a new publication from the Police Executive Research Forum.

     In three chapters that cover the broad topics of improving use-of-force policies and training; use-of-force tools; and handling the aftermath of an incident, authors explore issues such as K-9 policies, reducing force through hiring decisions, and the influence of consent decrees on policing. ...