Law Enforcement News

Vol. XXXI, No. 636 A publication of John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY September 2005

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In this issue:

Around The Nation: A coast-to-coast roundup of police news.
Singing a new tune: Taser issues safety warning.
The price of principle: BJS director is sacked.
Changes await: Preparing for an influx of rookies.
Out with the old: FBI jettisons ballistics technique.
Red flag: Border-state govs declare emergency.
411: Chiefs want real-time terrorism information.
Getting noticed: Gay-crime unit is cited.
Beast meets West: Is it bestiality or animal abuse in Washington?
In a New York minute: Crime-data takes quantum leap.
Introspection: Fraud crackdown begins at home.
Time Capsules: 25 years ago in LEN.
People & Places: The FBI beckons; called to serve; college gets its man; tweaking a well-oiled machine; the phone goes quiet; silencing the “Rant”; going out on top; comings & goings.
9/11 plus four: A roundup of homeland security developments.
Can we talk? Seeing red over software snafu.
Warming up: One city’s unique approach to cold cases.
Criminal Justice Library: Stamper “kisses and tells”; lessons from Enron; connecting the dots.
Forum: Sharing ideas & making a difference.
Coming home: Police confront prisoner reentry.
Image-building? Cops fight photo disclosure.
On the record: Interrogation taping gains support.

1975 - 2005
It’s been a great run

     In September 1975, an audacious new publication for police made its debut. Published then — and since — by John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the publication’s matter-of-fact title said it all: Law Enforcement News. It would address the world of law enforcement, offering a reading diet of news and features — meaty, insightful, thought-provoking developments in a rapidly changing, multifaceted profession. There was a communications gap in law enforcement, and this newspaper aimed to fill it.

     And so it has. Tens of thousands of readers since then have been informed, enlightened and stimulated by Law Enforcement News. LEN’s articles are the stuff of squad-car discussions and policy-making roundtables. Many who started reading LEN as eager, fresh-faced line officers have gone on to become leaders in the field as chiefs, sheriffs, scholars and researchers. At every step of such careers, Law Enforcement News has been there. ...

Study points to reasons behind mammoth nationwide DNA backlog

     DNA evidence collected in more than a half-million unsolved rapes, homicides and property crimes going back to 1982 remains either in the hands of law enforcement agencies that failed to submit the samples for analysis, or backlogged at understaffed crime laboratories, according to researchers at Washington State University.

     The National Forensic DNA Study Report, released in July, is believed to be the first attempt to quantify the nation’s DNA backlog. Data was gathered from 120 forensic labs and 3,400 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states by Drs. Nicholas P. Lovrich and Michael J. Gaffney, the director and associate director of the university’s Division of Governmental Studies and Services, and fellow researchers. Funding for the project came from the National Institute of Justice....

Taser sings new tune on safety

     Taser International did an about-face in August when it issued a warning to practitioners that repeatedly stunning or administering a prolonged shock to a subject can be potentially life-threatening.

     In a three-page training bulletin, the Scottsdale, Ariz., firm said that jolting someone in the throes of an excited delirium, a psychotic and often drug-induced state, could “impair breathing and respiration.”...

The price of principle

     Experts on racial profiling may not agree on what conclusions to draw from a Bureau of Justice Statistics report on traffic stops, but they can at least concur that neither should such information have been suppressed, nor should the agency’s director have been demoted.

     The Bush administration last month told Lawrence A. Greenfeld that he would be replaced. Greenfeld, who was appointed to the post in 2001 and has been with BJS since 1982, charged that he had been demoted because of his refusal to eliminate from a press release the study’s finding that minority motorists are treated more aggressively following a traffic stop than are whites....

Preparing for an influx:
Academy changes await Denver rookies

     Denver is adding some new techniques and flexibility to its police academy training in preparation for the onslaught of rookies who will replace the seasoned veterans expected to retire en masse over the next two years.

     As matters now stand, the police department expects to lose more than 450 officers — or one-third of its force — between 2004 and 2006. While there will be 1,475 officers on paper, only 1,330 will actually be ready to hit the streets, with many unable to solo before 2006....

Bullet-matching technique gets the heave-ho from FBI

     A decades-old technique used by the FBI that matches the composition of bullets recovered at crime scenes to other bullets found in the possession of a suspect will no longer be used, the director of the bureau’s crime lab said this month.

     The FBI had placed a moratorium on bullet-lead analysis last year following a report by the National Research Council which concluded that examiners had sometimes overstated the reliability of results....

Emergency declared on the border

     Millions of dollars in state and federal funding were freed up last month for local law enforcement when the governors of Arizona and New Mexico declared states of emergency in border regions where, they say, ranches are being overrun by smugglers.

     On Aug. 9, Columbus, N.M., Police Chief Clare May said he was shot at as he checked out abandoned cars. It was just one in a series of violent incidents that preceded the action taken by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano....

‘Critical mass’ builds among chiefs for real-time terrorism info network

     An informal network that would allow a police chief to simply pick up the phone and contact a counterpart in another city, state or country could provide precious extra time for preparation in the event of a terrorist attack, says at least one counterterrorism expert.

     Such a proposal was made by Los Angeles Chief William Bratton, following what appeared to be a second wave of transit bombings in London in mid-July. As it happened, Deputy Chief Michael Berkow was in London that day meeting with Sir Ian Blair, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, to discuss local response to the four bombings that took place on July 7. ...

D.C.’s gay-crime unit gets recognition as it builds track record of achievement

     While it failed to snatch the top prize this year, the gay and lesbian unit of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department was still the only law-enforcement program in 2005 to be named a finalist for the Innovations in American Government Award.

     The Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) was one of 18 finalists for the award presented each year by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Winners receive $100,000....

Horse mounts man
Will proposed beastiality law get a ‘neigh’ vote in Washington?

     A farm outside of rural Enumclaw, Wash., was a destination site for people seeking sex with livestock, say county and local investigators who raided the place in July following the death of a man whose fatal injury occurred while being mounted by a horse.

     The 45-year-old Seattle man, whose identity has not been made public, was already dead when a companion dropped his body off at the Enumclaw Community Hospital emergency room. Not realizing that the victim had already expired, medical staff wheeled him into the hospital. When they went back to find the driver, he was gone. ...

Information in a New York minute:
Crime-data mining takes quantum leap

     With a database capable of holding tens of millions of state and national criminal records, as well as emergency calls and other information culled from various branches of the criminal justice system, the New York City Police Department says the potential exists for suspects to be identified just minutes after a violent crime is committed.

     Launched in July, the $11-million data warehouse known as the Real Time Crime Center is housed in a windowless room at 1 Police Plaza. It will be staffed at all times by 26 officers who will sift through the data, looking for key information that can be passed along to personnel at a crime scene....

Crackdown on workers’ comp fraud starts at home for LA sheriff’s office

     Prompted by concerns about the rising cost of workers’ compensation, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in July launched a new fraud unit that will investigate the agency’s own employees.

     The county’s Board of Supervisors has approved more than $1 million to fund the squad. Each of its 10 detectives comes from the private sector....

Time Capsules:
25 years ago in LEN

     As the 1980 presidential campaign heats up, criminal justice planners voice hope that Republican nominee Ronald Reagan will reverse the Carter administration’s proposed budget cuts for the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, or at least force Carter’s hand to ease the austerity plan for FY 1981.

     In response to what it sees as a growing problem of police brutality against minorities, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights calls on Congress to put more teeth in federal laws authorizing the Justice Department to take action against individual officers or entire departments accused of engaging in brutality....

9/11 plus four: Homeland security

     The names of Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and three of the other terrorists who crashed planes into the World Trade Center had been identified by a highly classified military intelligence program prior to the attacks, according to two veteran intelligence officers.

     Lt. Colonel Anthony Shaffer told The New York Times that he was prevented from passing on the information to the FBI by military lawyers who feared the program, known as Able Danger, would be portrayed as an operation that had spied on civilians residing legally in the United States....

A failure to communicate:
Sheriff is seeing red over software snafu

     Stanislaus County, Calif., law enforcement officials are investigating why a $400,000 computer system was purchased even though evaluators knew it to be a mismatch for software already in use by the sheriff’s department.

     Called iManage, the digital-imaging software was part of a larger Integrated Criminal Justice Information System that the county had built in 2003. It would have allowed users to make changes to scanned documents until they were “frozen” as an image. The sheriff’s office would then be able to share criminal files with the probation office, the district attorney’s office and the public defender....

Police warm up to unique approach to cold cases

     James Martin got an unexpected Christmas gift; in fact, he described it as “the best present he’s ever received.” Martin was referring to a phone call from a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police detective just before Christmas 2004, telling him that a man had finally been charged with the murder of his daughter 15 years earlier.

     Sherry Jenkins’ murder was the first of four old homicides solved in nearly consecutive weeks by the CMPD Cold Case Squad. The success experienced by this unit is related to two things…the availability of DNA testing by the CMPD Crime Lab. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is the only local law enforcement agency in North Carolina with its own DNA lab. Evidence in the cases that was once thought to have little value proved to be a key to identifying the killers. ...

Criminal Justice Library:
Ex-Seattle chief’s ‘kiss-and-tell’ memoir

     Pity poor Norm Stamper. He would have liked nothing more than to write a book extolling the virtues of community policing and a greater police focus on domestic violence. A hard-working liberal police officer for 33 years, he rose from San Diego beat cop to chief of the Seattle Police Department.

     Then came the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. Massive protests and riots turned the city into chaos. Chief Stamper later resigned, admitting that he and his police were woefully unprepared for the scale of protests. Stamper’s name is now cursed by both ends of the political spectrum, albeit for different and often diametrically opposed reasons. ...

Coming home — to what?
Police face the realities of prisoner reentry

     Faced with the prospect of thousands of prison inmates returning to their hometowns, some local police agencies are implementing reentry programs that officials say fit neatly as crime-control measures under the community-policing umbrella.

     In Redlands, Calif., Police Chief Jim Bueermann’s department handles more than 300 parolees at any given time. He and city leaders launched a comprehensive reentry program in 2000 that includes a faith-based component, an official partnership with the county’s corrections and parole departments, and a panoply of services available to former inmates, such as parenting classes and substance abuse programs. ...

Image-building isn’t for Cleveland police as they fight photo disclosure

     Ohio’s open records law already prohibits the disclosure of officers’ addresses, phone numbers and the names of their family members, but Cleveland police are fighting to take their anonymity a step further by restricting the media from publishing their images.

     At issue is a change made in 2000 to the statute that prohibits the public from receiving personal information about police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. Under the amended law, any record that could identify the occupation of a first responder is also banned....

This is a recording. . .
Interrogation taping gains new adherents

     Law enforcement agencies in Illinois will soon begin audio or videotaping homicide interrogations under a law that took effect July 18, while in Wisconsin, local and county departments will start recording the questioning of juvenile suspects in both felony and misdemeanor cases as ordered by the state Supreme Court.

     The two states join Minnesota and Alaska as the only ones to mandate that such interrogations be recorded. ...