HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Sheriff Shakes Up Top Staff in Crime-Statistics Scandal
Pubdate: Sat, 08 Jan 2005
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2005 The Miami Herald
Contact:  http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/262
Author: Wanda J. DeMarzo
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/corrupt.htm (Corruption - United States)

SHERIFF SHAKES UP TOP STAFF IN CRIME-STATISTICS SCANDAL

Sheriff Ken Jenne announced changes in the Broward Sheriff's Office
Friday to rectify the underreporting of crimes and overreporting of
clearance rates.

Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne on Friday announced a sweeping overhaul of
his agency, capping a year of turmoil and scandal over its systematic
manipulation of crime statistics.

Four of the sheriff's command staff -- trusted members of his inner
circle -- are out. Twenty-nine detectives and sergeants have been
transferred, mostly to the road patrol.

And a controversial accountability system known as Powertrac -- which
many critics have said encouraged deputies to "cook the books" by
underreporting crimes and closing cases through fraudulent means --
will be dramatically changed.

The shake-up followed last week's filing of criminal charges against
two of Jenne's deputies in connection with the crime reporting
scandal. More such cases are anticipated.

The scandal mainly involves deputies taking crime complaints, such as
burglaries and car break-ins, from crime victims only to misreport
them as noncriminal "suspicious incidents," a way to make the crime
rate appear lower than it actually is.

In addition, scores of criminal cases were "closed" by blaming them on
people who could not have committed the crimes. In some cases people
confessed to crimes even though they were incarcerated at the time the
crimes occurred.

By touting its low crime rate and high rate of solving cases, BSO
convinced several cities to merge their departments into the sheriff's
office. BSO is Broward's largest law enforcement agency, patrolling
more than a dozen cities in addition to unincorporated Broward.

While the punishment has fallen on others, some of whom had served
Jenne and previous sheriffs for three decades, Jenne acknowledged he
was not blameless.

"I should have been more inquisitive and I initially underestimated
the scope and complexity of the problem," Jenne said. "I made mistakes
and in doing so have learned lessons and have become a better public
servant."

Jenne said a major restructuring of the senior staff is taking place
and that he would conduct a nationwide search for a variety of
top-level positions.

4 Who Are Leaving

Here are the four people whose retirement were announced Friday:

Undersheriff Tom Carney. He was the No. 2 man in the department,
having joined in November 1975.

Lt. Col. Tom Brennan. He oversaw various countywide services,
including SWAT and the Office of Professional Compliance, equivalent
to internal affairs. Brennan had been with BSO since August 1975.

Maj. Anthony Fantigrassi. He was head of BSO's Criminal
Investigations Unit and joined the agency in March 1971.

Maj. John Feltgen. Most recently the head of Fire Services, he
previously helped formulate and expand Powertrac. Feltgen worked for
BSO for almost 30 years.

The fours were not made available to reporters for comment.

John Cochran, assistant chairman of the criminology department at the
University of South Florida in Tampa, who has followed the BSO
scandal, said the sheriff's announcement was a way of trying to gain
back the agency's credibility.

"The retirements of the top staff is a way of allowing loyal employees
to leave the agency with their dignity and their pensions and good
name," Cochran said.

The sheriff also announced that Powertrac was undergoing major
changes.

He said it will be supplanted with a different system "that allows us
to focus more on the needs of the BSO law enforcement personnel and
the individuals communities we serve."

Critics of Powertrac say the system pressured deputies into
downgrading crimes, failing to take reports and "exceptionally
clearing" cases by blaming them on people who could not have committed
the crimes.

"Exceptional clearances" are cases where an offender is found to have
committed a crime but no charge is filed. In some cases, one offender
would admit to dozens of crimes but be formally charged with only one
or two. All of the cases would be recorded as "cleared."

Critics have suggested the regular Powertrac accountability sessions
resemble an inquisition. Under the existing system, district chiefs
and their top aides appear before Jenne and his command staff and are
grilled about their ability -- or inability -- to lower crime rates
area. The questioning, with the chief at the head of the room under
bright lights, could be harsh and withering.

A recent report by a consultant said some BSO personnel would call in
sick to avoid facing Powertrac.

Recommendations

Six months ago, a Professional Standards Review Board recommended
suspensions ranging from one to seven days for those involved in
misreporting crimes.

The sheriff never signed off on those recommendations. Friday's
actions appeared to be a harsher way of addressing BSO's problems.
Jenne said he wasn't satisfied by the recommendations.

The head of Broward's police union blamed the crime reporting problems
on Powertrac and said the deputies were just doing what they had been
trained to do.

"There was undue pressure on the commanders and it filtered down to
the deputies. He needs to get rid of Powertrac. It is atrocious," said
Police Benevolent Association President Dick Brickman.

"After the sessions, the district chief would come back and tell his
command staff to get those [crime] numbers down and clearance rates up
and there'd be that old wink which meant 'take care of it.'" And they
did, Brickman said. 
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