12/26/2006

IACP asks feds for crime commission

By Kevin Johnson
USA TODAY

WASHINGTON- The nation's largest police chiefs' organization is calling on the federal government to re-establish a national law enforcement commission to help restore confidence in local public safety operations.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) said Thursday that recent incidents involving officers' questionable use of force and abrupt increases in murder and robbery represent strong evidence for a panel, similar to President Lyndon Johnson's Crime Commission, which would develop a national anti-crime strategy. The panel would address a wide range of topics from police deployment to prison administration.

"We're past the time when we've needed to do this," IACP President Joseph Carter said Thursday.

Carter says the need for a crime commission was "validated" earlier this week by an FBI report showing that violent crime remained on the rise during the first six months of 2006.

The review found that overall violent crime was up by 3.7%.

The IACP also cited "highly publicized" police incidents, such as the New York City shooting death of 23-year-old Sean Bell after his bachelor party and the death of an 88-year-old woman during an Atlanta drug raid.

The IACP's proposal, listed among the organization's highest priorities for 2007, is not winning early support.

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., instrumental in passing the Clinton administration program to hire 100,000 additional police officers, says more money for additional officers and resources -- not a commission -- is needed to drive down rising crime.

"We don't need a commission to tell us what works," says Biden.

Samuel Walker, criminal justice professor at the University of Nebraska, says more attention needs to be focused on the application of the death penalty and such issues as police use of stun guns.

"But I'm not sure we need a full-blown commission," Walker says.

Recent jumps in violence prompted the Justice Department in October to launch its own review of possible causes.

Copyright 2006 Gannett Company, Inc.
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