The Pulse: Citizens League Issues Scan

"The Pulse", the Citizens League issue scan looks at topics of interest to members of the Citizens League (

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Saturday, November 02, 2002
Public Services: Public Safety. Coplink Brings Artificial Intelligence Software to Crime Fighting. Mindy Sink wrote for the November 2, 2002 New York Times about recent developments in artificial intelligence software being applied to better use and integration of crime data. Coplink is an Internet-based software system coming into application. For the recent sniper shootings, all of the information that was collected including that from other computer database systems like the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Rapidstart is now being downloaded into the Coplink database so that the accumulated data can be compared, said Robert Griffin, president of Knowledge Computing Corporation of Tucson, which is turning the prototype in the laboratory into a commercial product. "The more data you get, the better Coplink works," he said.
Coplink was designed by Hsinchun Chen, the director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Arizona. "It's the Google for law enforcement," he said, referring to a speedy popular Internet search engine that, given a couple of words, can find an array of related Web sites. "Things that a human can do intuitively we are getting the computer to do, too." Coplink works by linking and comparing data from new and existing files. For example, in a Tucson case a man was found lying face down after his throat had been cut and he had been run over by a vehicle. The man was still alive, and before he was taken to a hospital he told people at the scene, "Shorty did it." The name Shorty was put into Coplink and cross-referenced with the victim's personal data, and within minutes the records showed that the two men had been in prison together. The program also allows users to look at lists of data or to create graphs and charts showing affiliations among different criminals.
At the moment, the Tucson Police Department is the only one in the country where Coplink is fully installed. Software like Coplink's is already part of everyday life, said Rodney A. Brooks, director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It's inevitable that it's going to have some law enforcement application, too." The full article may be found at: The Coplink software site may be found at: (197)

Friday, November 01, 2002
Health Care: New Study Says to Pay More for Quality. An article by Robert Pear in the October 30, 2002 New York Times reported on the National Academy of Sciences report that recommended that Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs should reward high-quality health care by paying higher fees or bonuses to the best doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and health maintenance organizations. The Institute of Medicine at the National Academy, said that after years of disjointed efforts, the government must use its leverage as a buyer, regulator and provider of care to upgrade the quality of services received by 100 million Americans in six federal programs. The report recommended:

--In the next two years, the government should issue standards to evaluate treatment of 15 common health conditions, like diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, asthma, heart disease and stroke.

--By 2007, doctors, hospitals and other health care providers in the six federal programs would have to submit data to the government showing how they treat patients with any of the 15 conditions.

--Starting in 2008, each federal program would publicly report data comparing the quality of care available from health care providers who treat its patients.

The full article may be found online at:

Thursday, October 31, 2002
Public Services: Public Safety -- LAPD Gets Star Chief. Stefano Paltera wrote an article in the October 29, 2002 LA Times on William Bratton taking the position of police chief in Los Angeles. Bratton was credited with leading a dramatic crime reduction in New York City. On having the badge pinned on him, Police Chief William J. Bratton said the city's entrenched gang culture and thin police staffing made him reluctant to make the sort of bold predictions about reducing crime for which he was known in New York. “I’m purposely not talking numbers in a public way until I have a much better sense of how the department works," Bratton said after the public ceremony inducting him as the 54th police chief. In his remarks to a crowd gathered at the Police Academy at Elysian Park in the backyard of Dodger Stadium, Bratton outlined the task ahead, saying that the city can become safer only if residents and the police work together. "We're outnumbered 10 to 1," he told his officers. "100,000 gangbangers out there; 10 to 1." But the chief said skilled policing can overcome those odds. Speaking without notes, Bratton repeated his promise to make Los Angeles the safest big city in America--the charge given to him by Hahn. He called on LAPD officers to fulfill the promise "on the side of each and every one of your black and whites ... that world-famous motto: 'To protect and serve.' " "It is a very thin blue line -- 9,000 for a city this large," Bratton said. "I want to talk very bluntly to you. The citizens of this city need you back in those streets. They don't need you smiling and waving. They need you out of those cars, on those corners, in those parks taking back those streets." While he lauded the success against crime during the 1990s in Los Angeles, Bratton said that, unlike then, police now must forge a connection with residents, as well as make arrests. "This is a new day. Cops have to work with their community," said Bratton--who has gone back and forth on the quality of the force he is inheriting, at times saying that the badge has been tarnished by scandal, but then also saying that the force is already the best in the country. "You need to get in the business of problem-solving -- putting cops where the crime is," Bratton told the department. "And if it's on weekends, if it's on nights, if it's on the late hours, that's where you have to be”. In order to import community policing, Bratton plans to make a number of adjustments. He said Monday that he would revamp a disciplinary system that has been unpopular with rank-and-file officers for being slow and arbitrary. He said again that he would shift more power to the department's 18 divisions, which he envisions as "mini-police departments." Another priority for Bratton is updating the department's technology to track crime street by street. He used a similar system in New York. Bratton argues that such a shift is needed to comply fully with the federal consent decree that the city signed last year after the U.S. Department of Justice concluded that the LAPD had for years engaged in a "pattern or practice of civil rights violations." But with limited resources, Bratton also seemed eager to identify new pockets to draw on. He said he would go to the business community for political support and money. (195)

Wednesday, October 30, 2002
K-12 Education. OECD Report Snapshot of Industrialized Countries Education Systems. On October 29, 2002 the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published the Education at a Glance OECD Indicators 2002 report. The extensive report shows a complex picture of how the US education system stacks up against other industrial countries. U.S. students have better access to computers than students in virtually all other industrialized countries. In the US each school computer is shared, on average, by five students in the United States; in other OECD countries, the average is 13 students per computer. Girls in the United States say they're comfortable with technology more often than girls in other countries do. The US is also divided into high and low achievers in a way several other nations are not. The full report may be found at:,,EN-document-4-nodirectorate-no-15-35676-4,00.html. (194)

Tuesday, October 29, 2002
The Economy: US Workforce Ranks 10th in Literacy. Aaron Bernstein in the February 25, 2002 issue of Business Week reports on an Educational Testing Service report that of 17 industrialized countries, the US ranked tenth in adult literacy. Further, the US had the highest gap between highly and poorly educated adults with immigrants and minorities making up the bulk of those at lower literacy levels. The article concludes: “unless the US redoubles it educational efforts for those on the bottom, its global workforce disadvantage is likely to worsen. See the global literacy report at the site. (193)

Monday, October 28, 2002
K-12 Education Reform: Website on Urban Education Reform Strategies. As reported in Governing Online, a new Web site from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform provides a number of strategies for improving test scores and efficiency in urban school districts. One resource of the group's new initiative, called School Communities That Work, is a portfolio for district redesign. The document gives short advice on subjects such as developing partnerships and keeping the best teachers, and addresses school-funding inequalities. The initiative also contains other reports, newsletters and audio clips. The resources are available at (192)

Sunday, October 27, 2002
Healthcare: Labor Shortage in Nursing is Life and Death Issue. An article in the October 23, 2002 San Francisco Chronicle by Charles Ornstein describes how patient mortality rises with increased nurse workload and “burnout”. Surgery patients have a higher risk of dying within 30 days of a hospital admission with higher patient loads. The study was conducted by University of Pennsylvania researchers and appears to validate California's recent legislative efforts to limit the number of patients assigned to each hospital nurse. California is the first and only state to approve nurse-to-patient ratios, which take effect in January 2004. The Penn researchers concluded that inadequate nursing levels lead to thousands of avoidable deaths each year. They also found that a patient's risk of death within 30 days of admission increased by about 7 percent for every additional patient in a nurse's workload. "We find a really strong and unequivocal relationship between nurse staffing and mortality," said Linda Aiken, director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at Penn's nursing school. Researchers examined data from 168 hospitals, 232,342 surgical patients and 10,184 nurses in Pennsylvania. The patients underwent general, orthopedic or vascular procedures in 1998 and 1999. Such surgeries include gall bladder removals and knee and hip replacements. The full story may be read at: (191)