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Back to Archives | Back to July 2009 Contents 


National Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Call for Nominations

Eric Holder, U.S. attorney general, has called for IACP members to nominate public safety officers for the National Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor.

Awarded and presented by the president of the United States in the name of the U.S. Congress, the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor is the highest national award for valor by a public safety officer. Recipients of the medal are chosen for their extraordinary courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.

Five recipients of the award are chosen each year. To be considered for the 2009 Medal of Valor, the following conditions must be met:

  • An officer must be nominated for actions that occurred between June 1, 2008, and May 31, 2009.

  • Nominations must be submitted online by the chief executive officer of the nominee’s employing department.

  • Nominations must be received by the U.S. Department of Justice no later than 8 p.m. EDT, July 31, 2009.

The medal is given to recognize law enforcement officers who have distinguished themselves by performing courageous acts, which go above and beyond the call of duty, to save the life of a citizen. Agencies are encouraged to nominate any individual that has displayed such selfless courage.

For additional information about the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor program, including a link to the online application form, readers can visit

U.S. Treasury’s Go Direct Program

As police chiefs and others in law enforcement make speeches and discuss issues with senior citizens who receive federal benefits by paper check, they may wish to encourage them to switch to electronic payments.

Every year, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issues about 140 million federal benefit checks. In fiscal year 2008, nearly 70,000 Treasury-issued checks—totaling $64 million in estimated value—were fraudulently endorsed.

Using direct deposit instead of paper checks is an important way senior citizens can help protect against identity theft and fraud. Direct deposit eliminates the risk of stolen checks and forged signatures. Payments go straight into the person’s bank account, and direct deposit is completely predictable—the deposit is made at the same time each month.

The U.S. Treasury is sponsoring the Go Direct campaign to motivate more recipients to direct-deposit their Social Security and other federal benefits. Signing up is easy, and options include calling the toll-free Go Direct helpline at 1-800-333-1795; signing up online at or (for Spanish speakers); stopping in at a local bank, credit union, or Social Security office; or completing and mailing the paper form available at

Last year, the Treasury Department also introduced a new prepaid debit card (called Direct Express Debit Master Card) aimed at the approximately four million Social Security and Supplemental Security Income paper check recipients without bank accounts. This debit card provides cardholders free access to their money, and cardholders can make purchases, pay bills, and get cash at thousands of automatic teller machines and retail locations.

The Treasury provides a variety of free materials, information, and prewritten newsletter articles as part of the campaign. Law enforcement officers can download a toolkit of information to reach out to their communities at

Juvenile Justice Technical Assistance

A steady resurgence of gangs has occurred in recent years after a decline in the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, according to the 2007 National Youth Gang Survey, conducted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The survey results indicate that an estimated 788,000 gang members and 27,000 gangs were active in the United States. In rural counties, the number of gang problem jurisdictions increased by nearly one-quarter; the overall number of gangs increased by 64 percent; and the number of gang members increased by 36 percent. Larger cities and suburban counties remain the primary location of gangs and gang members, accounting for more than 60 percent of gangs and 80 percent of gang members. “Highlights of the 2007 National Youth Gang Survey” (NCJ 225185) is available online at

The IACP offers a juvenile justice training and technical assistance program in the form of a multiyear initiative focused on increasing the capacity of law enforcement and justice professionals to address juvenile victimization, delinquency, and crime from a holistic perspective. To accomplish this goal, the program delivers a portfolio of products and services that increase the focus on juvenile justice issues, encourage the development of innovative and effective prevention and/or intervention programs, educate law enforcement professionals and others on pertinent juvenile justice issues, and improve the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies in promoting public safety.

The IACP program offers no-cost training workshops to law enforcement and juvenile justice professionals across the United States in the subjects of juvenile interview and interrogation techniques, partnerships for safe schools, reclaiming youth through tribal collaboration, serious habitual offender comprehensive action programs, and managing juvenile operations.

The IACP program has developed promising practice briefs providing information and examples of programs and practices successfully implemented to address pertinent juvenile justice issues. Topics include bullying, school safety, gangs, juvenile offender reentry, truancy, juvenile sexual offenders, and substance abuse.

The IACP responds to requests for technical assistance (TA) on topics presented through training workshops. TA is provided to facilitate the implementation of enhanced or new programs; to evaluate the effectiveness of juvenile justice initiatives; or to provide assistance on improving or developing juvenile justice operations, policies, and/or programs.

This project is supported by a cooperative agreement awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. For more information, readers can call 1-800-THE-IACP, extension 831, or send e-mail to

Free Training for First Responders: Alzheimer Patients

More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and 70 percent of them live at home, in the community. To help law enforcement agencies protect these individuals, the Alzheimer’s Association has created a program called Approaching Alzheimer’s: Make Your First Response the Right Response. This outreach and training program, designed with and for law enforcement officers, paramedics, firefighters, disaster relief personnel, and other first responders, provides strategies for working with people who have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Beth Kallmyer, director of client services with the Alzheimer’s Association, reports that the new Approaching Alzheimer’s training program will assist first responders by providing them with the means to respond quickly and appropriately to people with the disease in their community. Subjects covered in the training include wandering, unsafe driving, shoplifting, unsafe guns, abuse and neglect, and disaster response. A highlight of the program is a DVD featuring actual first responders portraying scenarios based on previous encounters with citizens with dementia.

Training is available by contacting the local Alzheimer’s Association chapter. For more information about the Approaching Alzheimer’s training or contacting a local chapter, readers can visit or call 1-800-272-3900.

U.S. Secret Service Digital Ink Library Available

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced the successful transition of the fully searchable Digital Ink Library from the Science and Technology Directorate Command, Control, and Interoperability Division to the U.S. Secret Service. This cutting-edge system for analyzing ink evidence will assist in the investigation and identification of suspects in critical financial crimes and protective intelligence cases.

Created in partnership with the U.S. Secret Service; CAMAG Scientific, Incorporated; and the University of Lausanne, the now electronically searchable Digital Ink Library provides federal, state, local, and international law enforcement agencies with the ability to identify and analyze written evidence by consulting an archive of nearly 10,000 digitized ink samples. These inks are critical in the investigation of criminal and terrorist cases involving fraudulent financial documents, checks, money orders, property and asset documents, and threats to persons under law enforcement protection.

The Digital Ink Library uses a new high-quality solvent system to separate each ink sample into unique bands. By digitizing the results, the library allows for accurate, timely classification and secure, real-time sample matching. As a result, ink sample matching takes minutes as opposed to hours or days, and irreplaceable inks remain safe from environmental degradation and accidental contamination.

“The transition of the Secret Service’s Digital Ink Library represents an important milestone in our efforts to enhance evidence collection and analysis to enable more rapid, effective prosecution,” said Dr. David Boyd, director of the Science and Technology Directorate’s Command, Control, and Interoperability Division within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “The Digital Ink Library will significantly enhance the Secret Service’s ability to assist local, tribal, state, and federal law enforcement agencies with the investigation and identification of suspects, making our nation safer and more secure.”

To access the Digital Ink Library, departments should work through their local Secret Service contact.

Office on Violence Against Women Launches e-Learning Program

The U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) and Witness Justice (WJ) have developed, a Web-based training and education program created to address issues facing professionals that work with survivors of domestic violence.

In addition to WJ and OVW, the partnership includes the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, MetaMedia Training International, and a wide range of other experts on domestic violence and related issues. The initiative has initially produced three free courses along with a community discussion forum on 12 distinct topics. The program also marks an important collaboration between the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), where DHHS's National Center for Trauma-Informed Care serves as expert counsel on trauma as it relates to the course topics. The initial courses include understanding trauma and creating trauma-informed services; cultural competency; and responding to undocumented survivors.

The development of this program is an outcome of WJ’s National Domestic Violence Task Force, which was assembled in 2005 to find innovative ways to address gaps in this field. Both the courses and forums are accessible at

National Sex Offender Public Web Site

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced improvements to the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Web Site (NSOPW) and a new Internet domain name for the site: The new Web address replaces The updated version has a new look, is more user-friendly, and provides enhanced search capabilities to locate sex offenders. The NSOPW is administered by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART).

The NSOPW allows jurisdictions to participate in an unprecedented public safety resource by sharing public sex offender data across the United States. It is the only government system in existence that links to public, state, territory, and tribal sex offender registries from one national search site. With a single query, the NSOPW currently searches sex offender registries in up to 50 states, two U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia to deliver matched results based on name, state, county, city, or ZIP code. The NSOPW will soon link to newly established sex offender registries, including certain Native American tribes and additional U.S. territories.

Since the site's launch in the summer of 2005, there have been more than 17 million NSOPW user sessions, with 2.3 billion hits. Today, the NSOPW remains extremely active, averaging 2.3 million hits per day and 14,000 daily users. Additional information can be found at

The Web site, initially known as the National Sex Offender Public Registry (NSOPR), was established in 2005 and renamed in 2006 by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act to honor 22-year-old college student Dru Sjodin of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Sjodin was kidnapped and murdered on November 22, 2003, by a sex offender who crossed state lines to commit his crime.

A resource for police departments is the Managing Sex Offenders: Citizens Supporting Law Enforcement guide available through the IACP. This guide was developed in partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice. The guide is available on the IACP Web site ( or by calling 1-800-THE-IACP. ■



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXVI, no. 8, July 2009. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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