Pensacola's Take Me Home Program
The Pensacola, Florida, Police Department faced the questions of what to do when officers encountered nonverbal persons and how police officers could reach a responsible family member to help the person. Nonverbal persons can include autistic children, some seniors, Alzheimer's patients, retarded persons, and others who often will not wear or lose their medical alert bracelets and other identifying material.
To solve this problem, Pensacola developed the Take Me Home program, a photograph database that is available to all officers through their in-car computers. Officers obtain photographs and emergency contact information of the community's nonverbal residents throughout the year and have the information entered into the department's database. When a patrol officer encounters someone who cannot talk, the officer enters a physical description of the person into the Take Me Home program and the photograph and information that match that description come up on the computer screen. The emergency contact information enables the officer to take the person home without any delays or have a responsible person come and take care of the nonverbal person.
The Pensacola Police Department will gladly share the Take Me Home program with other departments. For more information about Take Me Home, call Officer Jimmy Donohoe at the Pensacola Police Department at 850-436-5416, or send an e-mail message to him at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
DNA Evidence Grants
The U.S. Department of Justice is making available $84 million in nationwide DNA grants as part of a national DNA evidence initiative called Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology. The DNA evidence initiative is a five-year, $1 billion commitment to improve U.S. capacity to use DNA evidence by eliminating casework and convicted offender backlogs; funding research and development; improving crime lab capacity; providing training for all stakeholders in the criminal justice system; and conducting testing to identify the missing. In addition, $13.6 million is being awarded to improve criminal justice forensic services.
"DNA has proven to be one of the most remarkable crime-fighting tools of the 21st century," said Regina B. Schofield, assistant U.S. attorney general in charge of the Office of Justice Programs. Newer DNA analysis techniques can yield results from biological evidence invisible to the naked eye, even in cases where the evidence is contaminated.
Today, police departments throughout the country are reexamining unsolved rape and homicide cases using advanced DNA methods. Newly processed DNA profiles are uploaded into the FBI database, CODIS, so the data can be compared with DNA profiles derived from convicted offenders and evidence samples already in the national system. Matches are confirmed by obtaining and analyzing a second sample from the suspect and then reported to law enforcement.
DNA evidence technology is helping to solve crimes, but many public crime laboratories are not fully equipped to handle the increased demand for DNA testing. Some laboratories have large backlogs of unanalyzed DNA samples from convicted offenders and crime scenes, and the backlogs can significantly delay criminal investigations and the administration of justice. According to a study funded by the Department of Justice, an estimated 542,700 cases have biological evidence that is either still in the possession of local law enforcement or backlogged at forensic crime laboratories. With these grants, the Department of Justice is helping to ensure that local jurisdictions, which often have the greatest DNA backlogs, can directly benefit from federal funds.
The grants will be administered by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research, development, and evaluation arm of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Nationwide, NIJ has awarded $18 million for DNA casework; $30.3 million for DNA capacity building for crime lab improvement; $4 million for DNA training; $7.7 million for DNA research and development; $1.5 million for DNA testing for missing persons; and $20.6 million for convicted offender testing. NIJ will also provide $13.6 million for Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants that can be applied to improving non-DNA forensic services. This funding represents the largest amount of money provided by the DOJ to support state and local forensic efforts.
Earlier in September, the DOJ awarded $1.5 million to the University of North Texas to help identify the missing and unidentified dead recovered as a result of Hurricane Katrina. It also awarded $4.4 million in DNA evidence initiative and other forensic service funds to states affected by Hurricane Katrina: Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. These funds will be used to assist in the recovery of crime laboratory capacity.
Also, DOJ awarded $2 million to five jurisdictions as part of a pilot program to help solve high-volume property crimes. Evidence now suggests that DNA evidence may help law enforcement solve these crimes and can prevent future property crimes and more serious offenses. The Department of Justice has selected five sites to participate in a $2 million 18-month pilot project that will assess the cost-effectiveness of expanding the collection of DNA evidence from high volume serious crimes to property crimes, particularly burglary. The five sites are Denver, Colorado; Orange County, California; Los Angeles, California; Phoenix, Arizona; and Topeka, Kansas.
Assistant Attorney General Schofield cited the pioneering efforts of two Florida counties, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, to use DNA analysis to solve many types of crime. These counties developed programs that identified cases of all types -from burglaries to car theft to robberies and other violent crimes-in which DNA evidence might be present but police had yet to identify a suspect. When the DNA profiles from these cases were loaded into state and national DNA databases, matches to known criminals were made in 40 to 50 percent of the cases.
More information about DNA Initiative can be found at (www.dna.gov).
Shifting and Sharing Responsibility for Public Safety Problems
A new publication in the Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Response Guide Series, published by the U.S. COPS Office, details the ways police can persuade others to address problems. The public calls upon the police to respond to an astounding range of problems and to perform an extraordinary diversity of tasks, all while assuming that police have the expertise and resources to do so. Many of these problems and tasks fall to the police because of gaps in government services or the abandonment of responsibility by private citizens, corporations, and other organizations. This has always been a concern of law enforcement executives.
In recent years, through a more methodical approach to policing, police are increasingly pressing for a more rational distribution of responsibilities based upon a detailed examination of the differing facets of the police business.
Shifting and Sharing Responsibility for Public Safety Problems, the third guide in the Response Guide series, details the ways police can persuade others to address crime and disorder problems. As such, it differs from other guides in the series; whereas most Response Guides examine the kinds of responses that can be used to address common crime and disorder problems-crackdowns, street closings, publicity campaigns, video surveillance, and so forth-this guide examines how police can get others to respond to problems, regardless of the form that such responses may take, provided they do not violate basic standards of propriety and legality.
The guide can be found at (www.cops.usdoj.gov/mime/open.pdf?Item=1566).
Youth Drug Use Continues to Decline
Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt announced a 9 percent decline in illicit drug use among American youth between the ages of 12 and 17 from 2002 to 2004. Marijuana use also declined by 7 percent among adults between the ages of 18 and 25 during this same period. Marijuana continues to be the most commonly used illicit drug, with a rate of 6.1 percent (14.6 million current users) for the U.S. population 12 and older. The findings are from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
The survey findings by the HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) show that, overall, 19.1 million Americans, or 7.9 percent of the population, ages 12 and older were current illicit drug users, meaning they used an illicit drug in the past month. This rate was similar to the rates seen in 2002 and 2003, around 8 percent of the population ages 12 and older.
Particularly striking was a decline in current use, defined as use in the past month, of marijuana among boys ages 12-17, from 9.1 percent in 2002 down to 8.1 percent in 2004. But marijuana use by girls in that age group did not decline and remained at about 7 percent. Similarly, for adults ages 18-25, the cohort with the highest illicit drug use rates, there were declines in current marijuana use from 17.3 percent in 2002 to 16.1 percent in 2004, and use of hallucinogens from 1.9 percent in 2002 to 1.5 percent in 2004.
An area of concern is the increasing nonmedical use of prescription medications among young adults. The 2004 survey shows about 6 percent of young adults used medications nonmedically in the past month, and 29 percent had used in their lifetime. From 2002 to 2004 there was an increase in lifetime prevalence of nonmedical use of narcotic pain relievers in the 18-25 age group, from 22 percent to 24 percent. Hydrocodone and oxycodone products showed increases in lifetime use among young adults ages 18 to 25.
Visit (www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/news/press05/090805.html) for details.
Two New Web Sites to Help Law Enforcement
Two informational Web sites devoted to combating the country's increasing methamphetamine problem and delivering effective strategies for community-based crime deterrence are now available to law enforcement.
The new (www.methresources.gov) site, sponsored by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is aimed at law enforcement, businesses, parents, policymakers, and drug treatment and prevention practitioners. The site features an interactive U.S. map and state-by-state information and resources on methamphetamine as well as a listserv where members post questions and exchange information about methamphetamine and its growing use.
The redesigned www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ccdo/welcome_flash.html site supports the Department of Justice Community Capacity Development Office efforts to work with local communities and law enforcement in designing strategies for deterring crime, promoting economic development, and enhancing quality of life. The site features enhanced design and content, interactive dropdown menus that provide one-click navigation, Google-powered search capabilities, and an advanced forum capability that can be used for collaboration and information sharing.
The Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics
The Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2003, the 31st edition, presents a broad spectrum of criminal justice data from more than 100 sources in six sections:
- Criminal justice characteristics
- Public opinion
- Crime and its victims
- Arrests and seizures
- Courts, prosecution, and sentencing
- Parole, jails, prisons, and death penalty
Nearly all the data presented are nationwide in scope and, where possible, displayed by region, state, and city to increase their value for local decision makers and for comparative analyses. The report includes more than 600 tables and figures, a subject index, an annotated bibliography, technical appendixes with definitions and methodology, and a list of source publishers and their addresses.
Printed copies are available for a postage and handling charge of $9.00 for U.S. buyers and $39.00 for buyers from Canada and other countries.
Visit Sourcebook Online, at (www.albany.edu/sourcebook), for details.