Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXXI, No. 635 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY August 2005

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
High-risk patrol: New dangers seen in bike patrol.
Missing? How to get NCIC on the case.
Try, try again: Seeking better handling of domestic violence.
Blown away: Breath-testing device under fire in Mississippi.
On retainer: Prosecutor’s office find good help is hard to keep.
Monkey business: False news report haunts Mesa SWAT team.
Don’t touch that dial: Police presence expands on cable TV.
People & Places: Time to move on; life of Bryan; NYC’s new watchdog; a cop’s comeback; building a future; a lot of crust; unjust dessert; family first.
Numbers don’t add up: W. Va. has problems with racial profiling data.
Decisions, decisions: Courts have their say on a variety of issues.
Criminal Justice Library: Crime’s roots as a family matter; lessons for living.
Forum: 21st-century crime-fighting, with help from the ATF.
At long last NIBRS: New use seen for incident-based data.
Setting the pace: Violent crime declines in NYC & elsewhere.

Intimidated witnesses could face deadly risks in coming forward

     With witness intimidation in cases involving gangs emerging a s a primary obstacle to the prosecution of homicides and other violent felonies, lawmakers, law enforcement agencies and district attorneys are turning their attention to legislation and programs that will provide both a disincentive to tampering with witnesses and protection for those who come forward about crimes.

     So far this year, prosecutors in San Bernardino County, Calif., have filed 51 witness-intimidation cases, seven of which are believed to be gang-related. Last year, 120 such cases were filed, with seven thought to involve gang members. ...

Bike patrol is a pain in the . . .
Cops risk impotence from too much time in the saddle

     Of all the places that a bike patrol officer might expect to look for danger, under his own buttocks is probably not one of them. Yet studies by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health have found that bicycle seats can cause serious damage to the male rider.

     According to research by Dr. Steven M. Schrader, chief of NIOSH’s reproductive health section, when a man sits on a bicycle seat as much as 45 percent of his body weight is resting on his perineum, the area between the scrotum and the rectum....

NCIC is among the missing

     Unable to get her missing daughter assigned an all-important National Crime Information Center case number that would have publicized her disappearance, a Chester, N.H., woman has successfully prevailed upon state lawmakers to adopt a measure that will require the state’s local police to enter missing adults into the system within three days.

     The bill, SB46, was passed by the House in May and signed by Gov. John Lynch on July 14. ...

Prosecutors, police still seek key to better handling of domestic violence

     When batterers are not punished severely enough for slapping or punching their partners, they become more ambitious — murderously so, say Idaho prosecutors, who are experimenting with a new way to reduce domestic homicides based on the “Broken Windows” theory of crime fighting.

     The approach known as “evidence-based prosecution” works by taking the decision to charge the batterer away from the victim. When responding to a domestic dispute, police collect evidence as they would at the scene of any crime. Prosecutors then pursue charges if they think they could get a conviction based on evidence that may include shattered windows, smashed furniture, medical records, and recordings of 911 calls gathered by officers....

Well, blow me down:
Breath-testing unit under fire in Mississippi

     A Mississippi municipal court judge declined in June to rule on whether a new breath-testing device that police had been hoping to use over the July 4 weekend violated a defendant’s constitutional rights.

     Police used the Intoxilyzer 8000 when they arrested Albert G. Barnett on April 3 after he crashed his car. Barnett blew once into the machine, but refused to blow again. Prosecutors said the machine did not register the exhalation. ...

Good help is hard to keep:
Prosecutor’s office faces retention problems

     Low salaries and high caseloads are forcing young prosecutors from the Richmond, Va., Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office to strike out on their own — often using what they have learned at their former jobs against their less seasoned replacements, say officials.

     In recent years, there has been as much as a 30 percent turnover rate among junior prosecutors. ...

Police force has a monkey on its back
Unconfirmed reports of SWAT primate haunt Mesa P.D.

     A misleading article published in April by a local newspaper about the Mesa (Ariz.) Police Department, its SWAT team and a monkey turned the agency into the butt of jokes from California to the Netherlands for months, officials now say.

     It all started when the department approved a request by The East Valley Tribune to have one of its reporters attend Mesa’s nationally-recognized SWAT school, said Sgt. Chuck Trapani, the department’s spokesman....

Don’t touch that dial!
Police make presence felt on local cable TV
Whether driven by a desire to educate viewers or to promote the department, law enforcement agencies in numerous cities and counties around the nation are making use of their local cable-access stations.


     “I have opened up the public to the local police department…we have a great rapport with the public,” Officer Tim Tuttle of the Rutland, Vt., Police Department told Law Enforcement News. “We’re here for them, and they’re here for us.”...

It doesn’t add up:
Racial profiling data going nowhere

     One year after an anti-racial profiling bill was passed, West Virginia lawmakers say it is still unclear what role, if any, race plays in traffic stops, because computers at the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles cannot read the forms.

     The legislation passed in 2004 requires law enforcement agencies to fill out a form that asks for the ethnicity, race, age and gender of motorists and passengers. Officers must also pencil in what agency they work for, and why the stop was made. One section that is optional, however, is the location of the stop. Instead of a street address, police are asked to thumb through a 46-page file and put in the U.S. Census Bureau coordinates. Not surprisingly, most officers leave that field blank. ...

Decisions, decisions, decisions
Courts have their say on police liability, burden of proof, guns & more

     The U.S. Supreme Court in June granted police a new layer of protection against litigation when officers fail to enforce restraining orders, but victim advocacy groups warned that the ruling will strike a devastating blow to victims of domestic violence.

     The 7-2 decision stemmed from an undeniably tragic set of circumstances, noted Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote for the majority. ...

Criminal Justice Library
Crime’s overlooked roots as a family matter

     Ronald Simons and Leslie Gordon Simons, both from the University of Georgia, and Lora E. Wallace, from Western Illinois University, have done a first-rate job in presenting a connection, long overlooked, between families and crime. The sociology of the family and criminology are frequently seen and taught as two entirely separate courses/subjects in sociology when, in fact, there are many reasons to connect them. This fine 232-page book, with extensive references/bibliography, name index and subject index, is part of The Roxbury Series in Crime, Justice and Law, co-edited by Ron Akers and Gary Jensen.

     The book is divided into two parts: Family Processes and the Deviant Behavior of Children and Adolescents, and Adult Deviance as an Expression of Childhood Socialization. Part 1 would serve as a welcome companion to a text, and offers well written, clear and concise presentations of issues of deviance and anti-social behavior in the familial context. This section provides the framework for understanding the relationship between parenting and delinquency, theories of social control and social learning. The chapter on corporal punishment is a lucid analysis, neither argumentative nor propagandistic, of the issue of physical punishment of children of different ages, the cultural context of its relationship to physical survival, and the role of what might be called “the slap on the butt followed by the big hug.” The authors see the use of corporal punishment as a negative for many reasons, which reemerge throughout the volume. It is seen as violent and, when used in the context of domestic violence (discussed later in the work), as catering to an image of the world and a way of dealing with it that spills over into adult life. ...

At long last NIBRS?
FBI eyes new use for incident-based data

     The FBI’s 15-year-old National Incident Based Reporting System, more commonly known as NIBRS, is poised to become an integral part of a new law-enforcement information sharing initiative the bureau is developing, according to an FBI spokeswoman.

     Some 5,271 law enforcement agencies contributed NIBRS data to the Uniform Crime Reporting program last year. The data from those local departments, according to the FBI, represented 20 percent of the nation’s population and 16 percent of the crime statistics collected by the UCR. ...

NYC sets the pace in crime decline

     In the fashion world, there’s thin, and then there is New York-thin. Similarly, in the realm of law enforcement, there is crime reduction, and then there are the kinds of double-digit declines in violent offenses that New York has shown so far this year.

     Murders have dropped from 259 during the first six months of 2004 to 215 during the same period this year, a decline of 16.9 percent, according to New York City Police Department statistics. ...