Workshop Selections for 2010 IACP ConferenceThe IACP’s Education and Training Committee recently met in Corpus Christi, Texas, to review 280 workshop proposals for the chief executive seminars at the IACP 2010 conference in Orlando, Florida.
The main reason members attend the annual IACP conference is for the educational seminars; the Education and Training Committee plans these opportunities for chief executives. This peer review process ensures that the workshops will be of value to attendees.
Because of space and time limitations, the committee can approve only a few of the many fine proposals it receives each year. This year, the committee approved 12 percent of received workshop proposals.
The purpose of the workshops is to provide solutions to problems law enforcement executives encounter today—solutions that they can implement in their local communities. Committee members look for imagination and creativity in the workshop presentations. Interactive, hands-on workshops are highly regarded by conference attendees.
All workshop proposals are judged on timeliness, appropriateness, and relevance to the law enforcement executive. The committee evaluates each workshop’s content to make sure only state-of-the-art programs are included in the conference schedule.
The workshop topics, speakers, and descriptions for the 2010 annual conference are available on the IACP website at http://www.theiacp.org (click on the conference logo).
Addressing Foreclosed and Abandoned Properties
Nearly 3.2 million foreclosures occurred in the United States in 2008, marking an all-time high for the country. In many jurisdictions, the number and location of vacant properties changed so rapidly that officials had trouble tracking them, let alone formulating an effective response. The city of Cleveland, Ohio, for example, estimated in early 2009 that at least 10,000 (or 1 in 13) of its houses were vacant, while the county treasurer estimated that the number was 15,000—50 percent higher.
While much of the public’s attention has been focused on the economic repercussions of the nation’s housing crisis, the repercussions for law enforcement have been just as significant. Vacant properties generate a host of interrelated problems, from unsafe structures and higher rates of crime to homelessness and strains on municipal services.
Jurisdictions across the United States have responded differently, tackling the problem from various angles. Many of the strategies deployed are the result of collaborations across government agencies and among the public and the private sectors. Police, city attorneys, district attorneys, U.S. attorneys, housing and building departments, health departments, community development organizations, landlords, private developers, banks, mortgage lenders, legislators, and regulators are finding ways to work together to slow or halt foreclosures, stem the decline of neighborhoods, improve the quality of life, and plan for new growth.
A new guide, developed by the Center for Court Innovation and funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, presents ideas to help policymakers, law enforcement agencies, and community partners address the challenges presented by foreclosed and abandoned properties. This document offers a sampling of responses developed by jurisdictions across the United States. It is intended to serve as a quick reference for law enforcement and government agencies looking for ideas to address vacant and abandoned properties. For ease of reference, it is divided into three types of responses: prevention, enforcement, and reuse.
For more information, visit http://www.courtinnovation.org; write to Expert Assistance, Center for Court Innovation, 520 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018; call 212-373-1690; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reduce Bullying in Schools
The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) is making its publication, Bullying in Schools, available at no cost in support of renewed local efforts to prevent the consequences of bullying. Bullying in Schools provides school administrators, teachers, counselors, and law enforcement officials with practical information on how to identify bullying behavior, reduce the incidence of bullying, and mitigate its impact. The publication also provides guidance to officials on how to determine the extent of bullying in their schools, address its causes, and develop effective practices that contribute to student safety.
Bullying has two key components: repeated harmful acts and an imbalance of power. It involves repeated physical, verbal, or psychological attacks or intimidation directed against victims who cannot properly defend themselves because of the bully’s size or strength or because the victim is outnumbered or is less psychologically resilient.
“Bullying was once viewed by some as a relatively harmless behavior that was an expected part of adolescent interaction,” said COPS Director Bernard K. Melekian. “However, we now know that bullying can have a long-term effect on both the bully and the victim. It can lead to other forms of school-based violence, and the advent of cyber-bullying can further exacerbate consequences.”
Victims of bullying are more likely to experience health deterioration, have declining grades, contemplate suicide, skip school to avoid being bullied, and experience feelings of depression and low self-esteem that can persist for years after the incidents. Research conducted in three countries also shows that those who bully are much more likely to develop criminal records than those who do not bully.
Bullying in Schools is one volume in a series of Problem-Oriented Policing guides developed by the COPS Office. It can be downloaded from the COPS website at http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/files/RIC/Publications/e07063414-guide.pdf, or it can be ordered at no cost by calling the U.S. Department of Justice Response Center at 800-421-6770.
NamUs: A Year of Growth
In just 12 months, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) experienced significant growth in terms of cases added to the system and the number of users registered. Most importantly, the system is accomplishing what it set out to do: provide answers and resolution for the critical issue of missing and unidentified persons around the country.
In 2009, more than 2,700 new cases were added to NamUs at http://www.namus.gov, totaling more than 9,000 listed on the website. “On the missing person’s side, the number of cases doubled in just one year,” said Billy Young, NamUs coordinator. “This is critical to the success of NamUs because the more cases that are in the system, the more cases can be solved.”
Case examples: Launched in January 2009, NamUs has already assisted in the resolution of fifteen missing or unidentified persons cases. Two cases illustrate the importance of public access to NamUs.
In June 2009, a citizen cyber-sleuth searching NamUs noticed a possible match between a woman who had been missing since 2002 and an unidentified body found near Albuquerque two years later. A forensic odontologist, available through NamUs to assist jurisdictions free of charge, was able to positively identify the remains. Two days later, the family of Sonia Lente—a woman who had been missing for more than six years—was notified that its loved one’s remains had been found and positively identified, allowing the family resolution and law enforcement to proceed with the investigation.
In April 2009, a man disappeared following a car accident in Connecticut. Police and dogs searched the area, finding the man’s wallet and some clothing, but no sign of the man. A few weeks later, the man’s aunt entered very thorough information, including dental records and images of tattoos and a wedding band, into NamUs. A body was found a month later near the accident scene. It was quickly identified as Jody King, the man who had disappeared following the car accident, thanks to the availability of dental records that were readily accessible in NamUs.
Cross-matching feature added: In July 2009, NamUs was upgraded to allow cross-matching between the missing persons and the unidentified decedent databases. The system continually searches records in both databases and provides side-by-side comparisons. Cases with similarities are automatically presented to the investigator as potential matches, reducing research time and giving the investigator the opportunity to exclude those cases that do not qualify. If some cases present as close matches, the investigator will engage forensic services to conduct further identification testing.
“NamUs is the first publicly accessible system of its kind. It also provides the automatic cross-matching feature between the missing persons and unidentified decedents,” said Young. “Because of this cutting-edge technology, NamUs was recognized in May 2009 with the IACP Law Enforcement Information Management Excellence in Technology Award for its superior achievement and innovation in the field of communication and information technology.”
Registered users: One of the unique features of NamUs is that it is accessible to the public as well as to law enforcement and medical examiners/coroners. “The real key is that this provides an opportunity for the different disciplines involved in missing persons cases, especially for families, to be involved,” said Mike Murphy, Clark County Coroner. “This is monumentally important to these families as it lets them be actively involved in the resolution of their own pain and anguish.”
NamUs currently has 4,771 registered users. Nearly 1,000 of these users are from the law enforcement community, and 268 users are medical examiners and coroners.
Looking ahead: According to Young, the focus in 2010 will continue to be adding more cases to the system and educating law enforcement agencies on the benefits of using NamUs.
“The key to NamUs’s continued success is making law enforcement and the public aware of what the system can do,” Young said. “The more we can raise awareness about NamUs and the more cases added to the system, the higher the probability of solving these cases. That’s what NamUs is all about.”
A major effort to increase the number of cases in the system includes working with agencies across the country to conduct information exchanges. This entails converting the contents of missing and unidentified individuals’ information contained in other systems into data that will be searchable and more widely visible in NamUs. This partially automated process gives investigators an opportunity to update case information and bring together pieces of a case that may have been stored in different areas. NamUs serves as a national repository for information on missing persons and unidentified remains. It is designed to facilitate the work of the diverse community of individuals and organizations who investigate missing and unidentified persons and crosses borders of states, counties, municipalities, and precincts. The system is administered and managed by the National Forensic Science Technology Center in partnership with the National Institute of Justice. It bridges different law enforcement professions and allows the public to become actively involved. Funding for NamUs is provided through a cooperative agreement from the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
For more information, contact the National Forensic Science Technology Center at 7881 114th Avenue North, Largo, FL 33773; call 727-549-6067; or visit http://www.nfstc.org or http://www.namus.gov.
Identity Fraud Survey Available to Law Enforcement
In 2009, 11.1 million U.S. adults became victims of identity fraud—a 12 percent increase over 2008, and a 37 percent rise since 2007. The increased incidence rate of 4.8 percent has resulted in one-year fraud amounts totaling $54 billion—a rise of $6 billion over 2008. Mean fraud amounts remain level at $4,841. The increased fraud incidence rate is being driven by the poor economy coupled with an increasingly global, specialized, and sophisticated criminal enterprise, according to the report issued by Javelin Strategy and Research.
Javelin’s 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report: Law Enforcement Version provides necessary resources and recommendations for the law enforcement community to stop this crime and help prevent, detect, and resolve identity fraud. This study is designed to educate law enforcement on the trends of identity fraud, the legal ramifications, and how to best equip consumers and businesses in lowering their risk of identity fraud.
Over the past six years, Javelin has surveyed nearly 30,000 adults to determine how consumers are being affected by identity fraud in the United States. The 2009 phone survey of 5,000 adults is the largest, most accurate identity fraud study conducted in the United States, and this report contains only a portion of some of the findings from Javelin’s full survey. Javelin’s identity fraud study reaches an audience of 13 million and is a factual resource for the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau.
The complete version of this research study, the 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report: Identity Fraud Continues to Rise—New Accounts Fraud Drives Increase, Consumer Costs at an All-time Low (96 pages) is available for purchase. The special law enforcement section is available at no cost to departments.
For more information, contact Javelin Strategy & Research at 4301 Hacienda Drive, Pleasanton, CA 94588; call 925-225-9100; or visit http://www.javelinstrategy.com. ■