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Back to Archives | Back to April 2005 Contents 


Looking beyond the License Plate Award: June 3 Deadline
The national award program that recognizes law enforcement officers whose observation of a license plate led to the arrest of a suspect or the solution of a crime is soliciting case histories that validate the importance of license plates as effective crime-fighting tools. The eighth annual Looking beyond the License Plate award program is open to all law enforcement officers and is conducted in cooperation with the IACP Highway Safety Committee.

All entries in the program must be based on license plate observations by sworn law enforcement officers between June 1, 2004, and June 1, 2005. The grand prize is an all-expenses-paid trip to the 112th Annual IACP Conference in Miami, Florida, September 24-28, 2005. The deadline for receipt of entries is June 3, 2005.

In announcing the program, which is sponsored by the 3M Traffic Safety Systems Division, Earl M. Sweeney, chairman of the IACP Highway Safety Committee, said, "License plates are the surest and quickest way for law enforcement officers and citizens to identify a vehicle." Sweeney added, ""This award program validates and promotes the dedication and initiative of officers whose daily efforts ensure the effectiveness of law enforcement system."

The Looking beyond the License Plate program is designed to substantiate and document the importance of license plates as law enforcement tools. Approximately 70 percent of all serious crime involves a motor vehicle, and law enforcement agencies nationwide acknowledge that license plates are critical crime-fighting tools used to track and identify offenders. Case histories submitted to the program's panel of judges provide valuable support to agencies involved in maintaining and advancing front and rear vehicle registration systems. Officers submitting entries will be recognized for their diligent work and a number of these case histories will be publicized.

Since its inception in 1998, the Looking beyond the License Plate program has attracted more than 1,800 entries. The entries tell the stories of officers who have taken enforcement action after observing license plates that appeared on hot lists, clean license plates attached to dirty vehicles, vehicles missing license plates, license plates bearing out-of-date validation stickers, and license plates improperly affixed to vehicles.

Some of the traffic stops prompted by these observations led directly to the solution of a crime and the apprehension of a suspect or criminal, or the discovery of a fugitive wanted on an outstanding warrant, or the arrest of a previous violator of a traffic or motor vehicle regulation. The suspects were wanted in connection with crimes ranging from moving violations to murder. Last year's winner, PFC Michael Ensko of the Howard County, Maryland, Police Department, observed a passenger vehicle with a commercial truck license plate, made the traffic stop, and discovered the driver was a fugitive from Florida where he was wanted for the attempted murder of a police officer and the passenger was wanted in Colorado for murder and other crimes.

Here are the prizes for the Looking beyond the License Plate award program:

  • A grand prize of an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2005 annual meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Miami, Florida, September 24-28

  • Five meritorious achievement award

  • Honorable mention prizes to winning entrants in recognition of the officers' participation in this program

If a jurisdiction prohibits an officer's acceptance of the grand prize, a donation in kind will be made to the grand prize winner's choice of a valid police fund or similar suitable organization in support of law enforcement, in lieu of the all-expense paid trip to the 2005 annual IACP meeting.

There is no limit on the number of entries an officer or law enforcement agency submits to the program by the deadline of June 3, 2005. For entry information and materials, go to or awards and campaigns or call 301-941-0308, or send a request by fax to 301-941-1309 or by e-mail to, or write to or call 3M Traffic Control Materials Division, Attn.: Looking beyond the License Plate; 3M Center, Building 225-5S-08; P.O. Box 33225; Saint Paul, MN 55133-3225; phone 651-736-5049.

Report on State and Local Law Enforcement Training Academies
The report "State and Local Law Enforcement Training Academies, 2002" presents data on personnel, facilities and resources, trainees, and training curricula of law enforcement academies in the United States, from the 2002 Census of Law Enforcement Training Academies. This is the first survey of training academies ever conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics. All academies that provide basic law enforcement training are included. Special topics include training related to terrorism, community policing, and racial profiling.

Highlights include the following:

  • Among basic law enforcement academy classes that completed training during 2002, an estimated 61,354 recruits started training and 53,302 (87 percent) completed or graduated from their training program.

  • Academies in 2002 employed about 12,200 full-time and 25,700 part-time trainers or instructors.

  • The total expenditures of training academies during fiscal 2002 was an estimated $725.6 million, including $351.2 million among county, regional, or state academies, $299.4 million among city or municipal academies, and $75.1 million among college, university, or technical school academies.

To view the full report visit (

False Alarm Reduction Online Training Course
A century of alarm use has taught the public and the insurance industry that alarms systems do provide an effective deterrent; but as with all sophisticated electronic systems improper or uneducated use can present problems. Over the years, the alarm industry has tried many different methods of reducing false alarms and false dispatches.

It has long been known that the alarm industry needed a vehicle to reach a vast public audience of alarm abusers who are responsible for most of the false alarms generated today. The old 80/20 rule applies, as about 80 percent of false alarms are caused by about 20 percent of users.

It has also been thought that if the law enforcement and emergency communications community had a tool that could deter and a corrective measure to those commercial, residential or governmental abusers of alarms, then the responding authorities would not be placed in a position of limited options such as no-response. To reach a vast audience of the general public and the law enforcement community, the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) designed the False Alarm Online Training Program. This online program is for central station customers, alarm dealer customers, law enforcement, fire and emergency response professionals, and others interested in how alarm systems work and in preventing false dispatches.

This program is an interactive learning tool designed with visuals and key learning aides. It is available through the CSAA Web site at (click the False Alarm Online Training icon). The cost of the course is $39.95. It should take a non-industry person approximately 90 minutes to take the course, understand the principles behind each module, take the test, and pass the course. Upon successful completion of the course, students will receive a certificate of satisfactory completion.

The course is in two parts. Part 1 discusses the different types of alarm systems, the alarm processes, and the difference between false alarms and false dispatches. Part 2 discusses the causes of false alarms and identifies and explains false alarm verification procedures and how to implement corrective measures to prevent false alarms.

It is CSAA's hope that the law enforcement and emergency communications communities, as well as the public and the alarm industry itself, will use this tool to help reduce the unwanted burden of false dispatches and train customers with chronic false alarm problems. A free demonstration of the course is available by going to the CSAA Web site at and selecting False Alarm Online Training.

For more information, call Steve Doyle, executive vice president of the Central Station Alarm Association, at 703-242-4670.

Homeland Security Survey Shows States' Progress and Needs
The National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices has released "Homeland Security in the States: Much Progress, More Work," an issue brief detailing the findings of a survey of state homeland security advisors identifying the progress and remaining homeland security challenges facing states.

The survey, completed in August 2004 by 38 of the 55 state and territorial homeland security directors, was released in February 2005.

"Governors have made great strides since 9-11 to enhance their states' homeland security processes and requirements," said John Thomasian, director of the NGA Center. "For all the progress states have made, governors understand there is still much work to be done. Homeland security is such a new and fluid discipline that all the lessons we learn are in real time."

The survey results indicate homeland security has quickly become a bipartisan priority for governors across the nation. "States have rallied to plan, coordinate, and implement a number of initiatives to prevent and respond to terrorist acts," the issue brief says. "States have also expanded their internal security capacity and worked with federal and local partners toward building a comprehensive network of resources to implement homeland security initiatives."

Accomplishments: Despite a general lack of precedent to assist their work, states have made great strides toward protecting their borders and preventing future attacks, the survey reveals. Each state homeland security strategy is tailored to specific needs, but the survey found that several likeminded strategies have been employed, including the establishing statewide emergency operations centers (100 percent of respondents).

"While no two states respond to threats in exactly the same way, the important thing is they all are designing solutions," Thomasian added. "From coordinating emergency response plans to developing interoperable communications systems, states have made great strides in building a new homeland security structures that compliment existing emergency management and public health functions. As is to be expected, this survey shows each state has different priorities and different needs. What is remarkable, however, is just how far states and governors have come in such a short period of time."

The Needs: The survey also polled states to determine their top 10 priorities, those that still need to be addressed to meet the homeland security challenges facing states. Here, according to the results, are the top three priorities:

  • Achieving interoperability, the ability for emergency responders to communicate with one another during an incident

  • Enhancing states' ability to collect, analyze, and disseminate intelligence by creating fusion centers for intelligence sharing among federal, state, and local government

  • Protecting critical infrastructure, including identifying and protecting essential daily functions such as telecommunications, transportation, and banking

"In a short amount of time, states have established critical policies and programs, especially in the areas of governance, preparedness, coordination, communication and information sharing," according to the report. "Progress, however, does not mean the job is done."

For a complete copy of the issue brief, which includes a categorical breakdown of the five major areas where states have devoted resources and energy, please visit the NGA Web site at (, or call Jessica Toliver, NGA policy analyst in homeland security and technology, at 202-624-5496, or write to her at (



From The Police Chief, vol. 72, no. 3, April 2005. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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