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“A peace officer may search for dangerous weapons any person who he has legal cause to arrest, whenever he has reasonable cause to believe that the person possesses a dangerous weapon. If the officer finds a dangerous weapon, he may take and keep it until the completion of the questioning, when he shall either retain it or arrest the person. The arrest may be for the illegal possession of the weapon. Sec. 833, Penal Code; West's Annotated California Codes, 1966 cumulative pocket part.
VI. 1968 BUDGET REQUESTS The Commissioners have not requested any funds in their proposed 1968 budget for any police precinct facilities. They have, however, requested $2,222,000 for the planning and construction of a proposed police training facility to be located at Blue Plains.
VII. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF GENERAL SESSIONS CRIMINAL BACKLOG
On April 17, 1967, the District of Columbia Court of General Sessions had 1,350 criminal jury cases awaiting trial. The period between the time a criminal jury case is initially brought to court and finally reaches trial is approximately four weeks.
Non-jury misdemeanor cases do not at this time present a acklog problem.
MONDAY, APRIL 10, 1967
SUBCOMMITTEE No. 4 OF THE
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:40 a.m., in room 1420, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Basil L. Whitener (Chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding:
Present: Representatives Whitener (presiding), Sisk, Hagan, Adams, Nelsen, Harsha, Gude, and Steiger.
Also present: James T. Clark, clerk; Hayden S. Garber, counsel; Sara Watson, assistant counsel; Donald Tubridy, minority clerk; and Leonard O. Hilder, investigator.
Mr. WHITENER. The subcommittee will come to order.
We will continue our hearings on anticrime legislation, which we commenced earlier.
We have with us the Honorable Fred M. Vinson, Jr., Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.
We are delighted to have you with us.
I believe you are accompanied by Mr. Hugh M. Durham, who is the Deputy Chief of the Legislative Section in your Division.
Mr. Vinson. Yes, sir.
Mr. WHITENER. It is always a pleasure to have you before our committee.
I know all of the committee will be interested in having the statement which you will present. We are delighted to have you proceed at this time.
STATEMENT OF FRED M. VINSON, JR., ASSISTANT ATTORNEY
GENERAL IN CHARGE OF THE CRIMINAL DIVISION, ACCOMPANIED BY HUGH M. DURHAM, DEPUTY CHIEF, CRIMINAL DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Mr. Vinson. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, it is a pleasure to be here.
The proposed District of Columbia Crime Reduction Act of 1967 (H.R. 7327 and companion bills) is one of the steps which the President has identified as “necessary to ultimate success in our drive against crime." This proposed legislative package contains his program to "strengthen” District of Columbia laws in certain respects. It really is supplementary to the budgetary commitment and the administrative changes which he called for.
We need not spend time recounting the details of the crime problem to which this legislation is addressed. The District of Columbia Crime Commission not long ago filed a more than 1,000-page report, setting forth an unprecedented amount of data on the problems which confront the city. The report documents the rising incidence of crime and identifies many of those local laws which are inadequate for the task.
For example, in the District of Columbia, guns are freely available and have become the weapon of choice among the lawless. They figure in, roughly, 30 percent of the serious crimes in the District.
Nearly 40,000 intoxicated persons a year divert police and court resources from more serious crime, yet our local statutes prevent full utilization of the methods by which we can take them out of the criminal system and leave the courts free to get to other matters.
Also, valuable police time is lost when officers process arrested persons who might well have been given citations to appear at a later time.
Often prosecutors are taken by surprise, because we have no law in the District--no procedural law-which requires notification of the insanity defense.
Youthful offenders and other prisoners are not handled in the manner most likely to assure rehabilitation and break the vicious cycle of recidivism among young people.
The District of Columbia Crime Reduction Act proposes remedies for these and other legislative inadequacies. Many of the provisions are specifically recommended by the District of Columbia Crime Commission and most of them are generally supported by the findings of the National Crime Commission. In summary, there is ample evidence that the nine titles of this bill will be a substantial aid to law enforcement.
The provisions of title I on gun control, we think are among the most significant. This title will insure tighter control over ownership and possession of pistols in the District of Columbia.
In the last fiscal year, 1966, 1,850 major crimes were committed in the District of Columbia by means of pistols. The reports of the National Crime Commission and the District of Columbia Commission both endorsed firearms legislation similar to the bill that you are considering:
The findings demonstrate that strict pistol controls can strengthen our efforts to reduce crimes of violence and help keep lethal weapons out of the hands of dangerous and irresponsible people.
Now, these gun control provisions are similar to the licensing provisions of the New York Sullivan law. Hopefully, they will bring the kind of control which has reduced the gun murder rate in New York to 1.7 per 100,000 population, a substantial improvement when compared to the 9.1 rate in the District of Columbia, almost six times higher.
I also call your attention to those portions of the bill which will free police time and public resources for the serious problems of law enforcement. Both titles IV and VIII contain provisions which minimize the number of police hours and the public moneys spent processing persons who are not a serious threat to public safety. Law enforcement is not materially advanced when policemen are used as jail guards, custodians, and van drivers. Similarly, no important law enforcement purpose is served by statutes which require the police to process all intoxicated persons without regard to whether they are causing a public disturbance or not.
Title IV therefore creates a procedure by which police officers may issue citations to arrested persons. These citations, which can function somewhat like traffic tickets, specify the time at which the arrested person is to appear at some specified place or in the courthouse. Issuance of the citation rests in the discretion of the police and can be used in those cases where the policeman feels some assurance that the person cited will appear in court. Under present law, the local police are very doubtful about their authority to do this. They feel that they may be bound by law to arrest all persons committing crimes and to bring these people before a committing magistrate. They thus do not use the citation procedure which has proved very successful in other jurisdictions including the city of New York and various California communities. Denver, Colorado also uses this procedure. These cities have eliminated much of the police time spent in transporting persons from the scene of the arrest to the station house, to headquarters, to the court. Costs of supervising arrested persons have been reduced, and there has been no serious loss to the public safety. Coincidentally, innocent accused persons have not been subject to the adverse consequences of unnecessary confinement. I believe it takes about 30 minutes for them to process a person. That is what the police figure for that. If they are able to use the citation procedure, and if this were transposed to, say, 20,000 arrests, you can see there would be 10,000 man-hours of saving that the police could apply elsewhere just in that area.
Title VIII, we hope, would portend similar saving of police time and public benefit. This amends the public intoxication laws of the District of Columbia and carries out the recommendation of the District of Columbia Crime Commission. The existing law which makes mere public intoxication an offense drains our crime-control resources and really does nothing for the victims of alcoholism. Our costs under this law exceeded $2 million annually for incarceration and another $3 million for police processing and court adjudication.
Now, despite these expenditures, the District of Columbia had three times as many intoxication arrests per unit of population as other cities. A very staggering comparison is the 44,000 arrests here with the 2,445 arrests in St. Louis, which has the same approximate population. We think this is due to the fact that St. Louis utilizes some of the procedures which we propose in title VIII. But it seems to be obvious that the District of Columbia would do well to cease losing $5 million per year of police, court, and correction resources in its "revolving door” for drunks and should revise its laws to permit medical alternatives, civil alternatives, to the criminal process.
Obviously, title VIII is not primarily a timesaving device. Its primary thrust is one of removing from the criminal process those persons who can not be aided or corrected by the criminal process.
Now, in this respect, title VIII and title VII have a similar purpose. Title VII, dealing with narcotic addiction, is designed to give drug addicts who appear before the Court of General Sessions the same opportunities to be diverted from the criminal system which the Congress approved in the Narcotic Rehabilitation Act of 1966, which applies to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The Crime Reduction bill also aids the police in other ways. Title II authorizes arrests for certain misdemeanors without a warrant. Title III prevents obstruction of police investigation, and title V clarifies police authority with respect to material witnesses.
As you know, under existing District of Columbia law a police officer may arrest a person without a warrant if an offense is committed in his presence or if he has probable clause to believe that a felony has been committed. Generally, he cannot arrest for a misdemeanor not committed in his presence unless he has a warrant.
Title II would permit the police, in carefully delimited circumstances, to make arrests without a warrant for certain serious misdemeanors not committed in their presence. But to effectuate such an arrest, the bill requires the arresting officer to have probable cause to believe that the suspect has committed one of the enumerated misdemeanors, assault, unlawful entry, receiving stolen goods, and attempts to violate the serious laws having to do with housebreaking, grand larceny, and unauthorized use of a vehicle—and, moreover, to have probable cause to believe that, unless immediately arrested, the person will not be apprehended or may cause injury to others or to property or may destroy evidence.
Now, the police in such instances are plainly in need of immediate arrest authority which they do not have. Some progressive statutes, such as Wisconsin's, permit arrests for all misdemeanors where there is a reasonable belief that the offender, if he is not immediately taken into custody by the police, will escape apprehension or will do further damage. That is also the view taken by the first tentative draft of the American Law Institute's Model Code of Pre-arraignment Procedure.
Another important aid to the police is contained in title III of the proposed Crime Reduction Act. This title concerns the obstruction of criminal investigations. Existing law relating to obstruction of justice in the District of Columbia applies only to obstruction of on-going judicial proceedings. This same gap exists in our title 18 of the Federal Code, I might add, as no provision is made for obstruction which occurs in the investigative stages which precede the filing of a complaint or an information or the returning of an indictment. The proposed title would fill this gap by making criminal the obstruction of investigations relating to violations of any criminal statute of the District of Columbia.
Prosecution of criminal offenses is also aided in this bill. Titles V and IX of the bill facilitate the availability of witnesses and provide that defense counsel must give notice of the insanity defense.
Title V, as I previously stated, we feel, clarifies police authority to take material witnesses into custody. This title provides protection for material witnesses by insuring their prompt presentment before a magistrate and release under the terms of the Bail Reform Act of 1966. The provisions of title IX may be of greater significance for the witnesses themselves. Section 905 provides a medium of compensation for those persons who appear as witnesses in the Court of General Sessions. The existing law, as you know, provides 75 cents a day for these appearances, and the proposed law brings it up to the District Court level of $4 a day. Neither is totally adequate to compensate witnesses who n ay lose several days from work while endeavoring to perform their obligations as a citizen to testify.