BJS Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies under Way
On behalf of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) of the U.S. Department of Justice, the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago is collecting basic descriptive statistics from every state and local law enforcement agency in the United States. This data collection, known as the Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies (CSLLEA), is conducted every four years. The 2008 CSLLEA is being sent to law enforcement agencies by mail, but agencies may submit their responses by mail, by fax, or on the World Wide Web (the preferred method).
For most of the more than 18,000 agencies being contacted, the survey form is just two pages long and is limited to questions on agency functions, number of personnel, and annual operating budget. A sample of about 3,000 agencies will receive a longer form that includes three additional pages of questions related primarily to officer retention and recruitment.
Federal, state, and local officials use the CSLLEA data to assess the needs of law enforcement agencies and how these agencies may have changed since the last census was conducted in 2004. BJS data are often used by those developing and operating federal grant programs for law enforcement agencies.
No other data collection obtains such data from every agency in the United States. BJS will make the results of the data collection available in a report, “Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, 2008,” planned for release in late 2009.
The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, as amended (42 U.S.C. 3732), authorizes this information collection. Although the census is voluntary, BJS is hoping for full participation so the results will be complete and accurate.
Agencies needing assistance with the census form should contact Stephanie Poland of the NORC at 800-669-5539 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For general comments about the data collection, readers can contact Brian Reaves of BJS at 202-616-3287 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Employing Returning Combat Veterans as Police Officers
The IACP has partnered with the Bureau of Justice Assistance and Klein Associates Division/ARA to study and identify transitional issues and shortfalls that combat veterans experience as they return from deployment and resume careers in the law enforcement profession.
Veterans transitioning from a combat zone to a community-based law enforcement environment return with a unique skill set. These returning officers may also experience mental and physical challenges as they resume full-time sworn positions they occupied prior to deployment or as they begin new jobs as officers. Proactive agency leadership can provide balanced and reasonable oversight and support to veterans and their families to address all issues that may arise.
The Returning Combat Veterans Project offers law enforcement agencies recommendations and ideas on how they can both create a healthy workplace environment where staff and colleagues are able to recognize and understand veteran experiences and provide veterans with strategies and tools to intervene positively and successfully.
Veteran and leader focus groups, individual interviews, and surveys were used by this project to reveal policy and procedural shortfalls. Some agencies had extensive transitional programs in place to support their returning veterans and family members, whereas others had substantial gaps in their policies and procedures. Additionally, comments offered by veterans and police leaders revealed some training deficiencies at both the academy and the in-service levels.
The IACP recommends that the returning combat veteran transition period include retraining, policy updates, testing on new equipment, physical and mental checkups, and in-service training by (veteran) police officers.
The IACP hopes to close these programmatic gaps through the publication of two guidebooks—one for law enforcement agency leaders and the other for returning veteransas well as a training curriculum enhancement document. Publication of these materials is scheduled for 2009.
There are, however, several actions that leaders can take immediately, such as publicly acknowledging veterans for their service, establishing peer and family support groups for veterans, and updating veterans on policies and procedures enacted during deployment.
For more information or if an agency has any best practices regarding veterans that it would like to share, readers can contact Arnold Daxe Jr. at 1-800-THE-IACP, extension 817, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reducing Alarm Calls in Seattle
The Seattle, Washington, Police Department will become one of the first major police departments to begin full enforcement of a law adopted in 2004 designed to reduce the volume of calls they receive from alarm monitoring companies. The new policy, effective January 1, 2009, enforces a law that has been on the books since 2004 that mandates that alarm monitoring companies place two verification calls to customers before contacting police.
This two-call verification procedure is called enhanced call verification (ECV). Although ECV has been adopted in many jurisdictions across the United States, local police departments often do not enforce it. Seattle’s plan to enforce the requirement is a major step toward reducing false alarms.
The 2004 ordinance also requires the registration of alarm monitoring companies who conduct business within the city of Seattle. The alarm ordinance is designed to reduce the number of false alarm activations by instituting measures that have been fully endorsed by the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), the IACP, and the Washington Burglar and Fire Alarm Association.
According to Stan Martin, SIAC executive director, “ECV generates as much as an 80 percent reduction in unnecessary police dispatches in communities throughout the United States.”
On January 1, 2009, the Seattle Police Department will no longer respond to alarm monitoring company dispatch requests that have not followed the ECV procedure.
Also beginning January 1, the City of Seattle will enforce the requirement for alarm monitoring companies doing business in Seattle to be licensed with the city. Each registered alarm monitoring company will be provided with a unique identification number (UIN) and must provide the UIN when calling police and requesting a dispatch to a burglar alarm activation. As with the requirement for ECV, if the requesting company does not have a UIN, its request for a police dispatch will be declined. This new policy will bring all alarm monitoring companies into compliance and enhance the police department’s ability to track requests for dispatch calls per monitoring company.
Honesty among Youth
Following a benchmark survey in 1992, the Josephson Institute has conducted a national survey of the ethics of U.S. youths every two years.
The 2008 survey of 29,000 high school students reveals entrenched habits of dishonesty in the workforce of the future—stealing, lying, and cheating rates climb to alarming levels. Data were gathered through a national sample of public and private high schools. For the general questions (over 20,000 responses), the accuracy is well within ±0.007, or 0.7 percent; for breakdowns of 10,000, the accuracy is ±0.98 percent; and even when there are just 1,000 responses, the accuracy is ±3.1 percent. Almost all standard errors of differences are much less than 1 percent for even small samples. These statistics have been verified by the department chair of Decision Sciences and Marketing, Graziadio School of Business and Management, Pepperdine University, Malibu, California.
Stealing: More than one in three boys (35 percent) and one in four girls (26 percent) surveyed a total of 30 percent overall—admitted to stealing from a store within the past year. In 2006, the overall theft rate was 28 percent (32 percent for boys, 23 percent for girls).
Students who attend private secular and religious schools were less likely to steal, but still the theft rate among nonreligious independent-school students was more than one in five (21 percent), while 19 percent who attend religious schools also admitted stealing something from a store in the past year.
Honors students (21 percent), student leaders (24 percent), and students involved in youth activities like the YMCA and school service clubs (27 percent) were less likely to steal, but still more than one in five committed theft.
Twenty-three percent said they stole something from a parent or other relative in the past year (the same as 2006), and 20 percent confessed they stole something from a friend. Boys were nearly twice as likely to steal from a friend as girls (26 percent versus 14 percent).
Lying: More than two of five (42 percent) said that they sometimes lie to save money. Again, the male-female difference was significant: 49 percent of boys, 36 percent of girls. In 2006, 39 percent said they lied to save money (47 percent of boys, 31 percent of girls).
Thirty-nine percent of students in private-religious schools admitted to lying, as did 35 percent of the students attending private nonreligious schools.
More than 8 in 10 students (83 percent) from public schools and religious private schools confessed they lied to a parent about something significant. Students attending nonreligious independent schools were somewhat less likely to lie to parents (78 percent).
Cheating: A substantial majority (64 percent) of students said they cheated on a test during the past year (38 percent did so two or more times), up from 60 percent and 35 percent in 2006.
There were no gender differences on the issue of cheating on exams. Students attending nonreligious independent schools reported the lowest cheating rate (47 percent), while 63 percent of students from religious schools cheated. Responses about cheating show some geographic disparity: 70 percent of the students residing in the southeastern United States admitted to cheating, compared with 64 percent in the West, 63 percent in the Northeast, and 59 percent in the Midwest. More than one in three (36 percent) said they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment. In 2006, the figure was 33 percent.
Lying on the Survey: More than one in four (26 percent) confessed that they lied on at least one or two questions on the survey. Experts agree that dishonesty on surveys usually is an attempt to conceal misconduct.
Self-Image: Despite these high levels of dishonesty, these same survey respondents have a high self-image when it comes to ethics. Ninety-three percent said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character, and 77 percent said that “when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know.”
A complete set of data generated by the survey is available at http://charactercounts.org/programs/reportcard/.
The Josephson Institute of Ethics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in Los Angeles, California, created and administers the Character Counts! Coalition, a partnership of more than 900 educational and youth-serving organizations committed to improving the ethical quality of the United States’ young people through character education. For more information, readers can visit www.charactercounts.org.
New Vishing Attacks
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has received information concerning a new technique used to conduct vishing attacks. Vishing utilizes caller ID spoofing via voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to contact potential victims to gain access to their personally identifiable information (PII) by convincing victims that the criminal is associated with a legitimate business with a need to know victims’ PII. PBX systems are used by companies to allow telephone calls between VoIP enterprise users on local lines while allowing all users to share a limited number of external lines.
The recent attacks were conducted by hackers exploiting a security vulnerability in Asterisk software. Asterisk is a free and widely used software developed to integrate PBXii systems with VoIP; however, early versions of the Asterisk software are known to have a vulnerability. The vulnerability can be exploited by cybercriminals to use the system as an autodialer, generating thousands of vishing telephone calls to consumers within one hour.
Law enforcement agencies should include information about this attack when interacting with the business community. Consumers who fall victim to this scheme will have their PII compromised. To prevent further loss of consumers’ PII and to reduce the spread of this new technique, it is imperative that businesses using Asterisk upgrade their software to a version that has fixed the vulnerability.
Agencies and businesses alike should always tell consumers not to release personal information in response to unsolicited telephone calls. Providing their PII will compromise their identities. Local agencies should always ensure that victims of Internet crime file complaints at www.IC3.gov. ■