Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What works?

What Works Cities is an initiative of the Bloomberg Philanthropies that helps cities enhance their use of data and evidence to improve their services. Lincoln was fortunate last year to be selected as one of the cities (57 so far) to receive technical assistance from the initiative.

Part of that assistance is in the form of training, and today we are hosting Eric Reese, from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Government Excellence, GovEx. Eric is leading a training session on performance management for about 130 City of Lincoln staff: department directors, their assistants, and senior managers. The purpose of this training is to help us further enhance our performance management process, exemplified by Taking Charge, Lincoln's outcome-based budgeting process.

Tomorrow, both the audience that the topic changes to open data. Lincoln is joining the nationwide open data movement, and our open data governance committee will be participating in what we are calling an Open Data Boot Camp: a half day to get every one up to speed on the concepts, purpose, practices, and opportunities surrounding open data. The governance committee is composed of 17 City staff and citizens from several walks of life.

I'm leading the City's open data initiative, at least for the moment, because of my interest in data. Greater transparency with police data was a recommendation of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and anyone who has read my blog for any part of the past decade knows that I'm mighty interested in using data and analysis to guide operations. Lincoln already makes lots of data and information available to the public, but we intend to do even more, and to transition to more data made available in machine-readable format that can be easily downloaded and employed by anyone interested.

We are looking forward to a couple of days of engaging, interesting, and productive training. City Council member Leirion Gaylor Baird is largely responsible for Lincoln's selection as a What Works City, and the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Rick Hoppe, has been doing the heavy lifting for organizing both this training and the City's interface with the initiative.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Preparation advice

Yesterday, I received an email from a United States Marine, who will be leaving active duty in the near future, and is interested in a career in policing. He intends to continue his college education (he already has an Associate of Arts degree) to pursue a bachelor's degree, and was seeking my advice on the best majors for his career aspirations.  Here's what I suggested:

Good to hear from you, and thank you for your service to the United States. I would strongly advise that you pursue your bachelor's degree and take full advantage of your GI bill benefits. If you can do that before seeking full-time employment, you should do so. Having finished my own BS and MA while working full time, it's a load I certainly wish I could have avoided! 
If the financials don't work, the key is to put the nose to the grindstone and make sure you are getting at least a few credit hours under your belt every single semester, and at least one of the summer sessions. 
My personal opinion is that the field of study matters little. I switched my major to criminal justice as a senior, only so I could take advantage of Federal funding opportunities. Otherwise, I would have been an English major. One of the best police officers I ever hired, Vicki Bourg, had a BA in Restaurant Administration. 
I always advise young people to study what interests them, what they would find to be the least tedious.  You're more mature, and in your case I would also add this: "What course of study will require the least number of credit hours to complete my degree?" 
A Marine with a BA in Synchronized Swimming and some real-world experience still has a mighty strong set of credentials, in my book! 

Best wishes, 
Tom CasadyDirector of Public Safety

Thursday, December 8, 2016

You can do it!

This started as a series of tweets last night, but I want to preserve these thoughts by republishing them on my blog. Lincoln has reached 10,000 followers on PulsePoint, and the app is exploding across the U.S. and Canada. Too many people, however, think they need some kind of certification to perform CPR. Nothing wrong with good training and certification, but on the other hand, the lack thereof certainly doesn't prevent you from potentially saving a life. Here's the tweets:

Maybe you haven't dowloaded PulsePoint because you're not CPR certified. Training is always good, but 911 dispatchers around the world...   
...coach callers through bystander CPR over the phone every day. If you do nothing, because there isn't a card in your wallet,... 
...the odds are not good. Get the victim flat on his back, put your hands in the center of his chest, push hard and fast, and don't stop. 
Get some good training later, but in the meantime, don't just stand there and watch someone die. Any CPR is better than none. You can do it!

I should have added "Call 911",  get the victim on the floor flat on his back", and maybe even "send someone to look for an AED", but I bumped up against the 140 character limit. By the way, in the midst of my mini tweet-storm last night, I received this, which really says it all:


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Gun control rant

Last week, I bemoaned the number of firearms stolen from unlocked motor vehicles in Lincoln--noting that about half of those guns were stolen from people who are supposedly firearms-savvy: the holders of concealed carry permits.

The form of gun control mentioned in the title of this post is the most basic kind: maintaining control of your own gun. I am annoyed that people who feel so confident in their own capabilities that they carry a concealed gun in their vehicle would be so careless as to leave their vehicle unlocked, resulting in their pistol falling into the hands of a criminal.

An incident last evening, however, has sent me over the edge from annoyed to angry. About 5:00 PM, an officer was dispatched to a theft in the 2200 block of O Street. The victim had parked his pickup truck in the alley, and left it unlocked as he went about his business. He returned about 20 minutes later, and found the door ajar. His loaded Smith & Wesson .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol was missing, along with an extra loaded magazine.

About an hour later, another officer was sent to an address about a mile away, after a tip was received that a teenaged runaway was at that address. He spotted the runaway, who did not want be taken into custody. A fight ensued, during which this 18 year old punched the officer. He was forcibly subdued and handcuffed. In his pocket was the loaded pistol stolen earlier, along with the extra magazine. Another 15 year old accompanying him had the victim's holster and a bottle of Hennessy in his backpack.

This was a close call. How easily could this encounter have turned into a fatal one, either for the teenager or the police officer?

All of this might have been avoided if the owner of the pistol had practiced some pretty darned basic gun control: locking his vehicle so his pistol remains under his control, not that of a teenaged runaway and a 15 year old with a taste for Cognac.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Gun owners beware

So far in 2016, at least nine people with concealed carry permits have suffered the loss of their pistol through a theft from a motor vehicle. In all nine cases, there was no sign of forced entry, suggesting that the vehicles in each of these thefts was simply left unlocked.

These things happen, and I hate to beat up on people who have already been the victim of a crime. But with a concealed carry permit comes great responsibility. Among those responsibilities is the obligation to take reasonable steps to protect your weapon. One of those steps is to keep it under your control.

In addition to the nine concealed carry permit holders, eight other cases involved the theft of a firearm from a motor vehicle. Interestingly, of this total of 17 cases, only one involved forced entry.

Storing your pistol in your vehicle, in my opinion, is not a great idea. I'd rather it was in a lockbox in your bedroom than in the console of your vehicle overnight. It is also illegal to store it for more than 24 hours in a motor vehicle here in Lincoln (Lincoln Municipal Code 9.36.110).



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Interesting street names

Readers of the Director's Desk know that I'm a big fan of PulsePoint. I'm subscribed to the Twitter feed (@1000livesaday) that tweets every PulsePoint CPR notification. Yesterday morning, I noticed one of those in Kingston, Ontario. It was the street name that caught my eye:


You can confirm that with Google's StreetView, too.


It made me think about other interesting street names. Here's is my nomination from Lincoln, the aptly-named Short Street.


I'm also pretty partial to the intersection of S. 37th and S. 38th Streets, which seems to defy all logic.




Thursday, October 13, 2016

Crime down, arrests up

A couple weeks ago, I had an interesting conversation with our County Attorney, Joe Kelly. We ran into each other before a meeting at the Malone Community Center, and chatted about his perception that felony prosecutions are up this year. I pulled up the most recent data on my smartphone, and indeed felony arrests by LPD are up about 10% so far in 2016. We speculated about what might be cause of this increase.

Afterwards, I put together a chart of the trend since the turn of the century, and compared it side-by-side with the crime trend. It's rather interesting.




Crime in Lincoln has been falling pretty significantly, whereas felony arrests have been increasing--especially in the last four years. This seems a bit counter-intuitive: I would expect that less crime would mean fewer arrests.

These charts begin in 2000, but the patterns for both crimes and felony arrests are more longstanding. These trends actually start back in in 1991. Interestingly, misdemeanor arrests do not show a similar pattern. They have declined slightly between 2000 and 2015, and are down by more than a third from their 2008 peak. I have a working theory on why felony arrests are increasing, but it's going to require some research to put my guess to the test.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Crash alerts worthwhile

Last week, I was about to head home from the office when I learned of an injury traffic crash at S. 40th St. and Highway 2 in Lincoln., which would ordinarily be on my route. With an injury crash, lots of emergency vehicles would be responding, and I realized that an alternate path would be preferable.

When I got home 20 minutes later, I checked the traffic cameras. Sure enough, the eastbound lanes were essentially a two mile linear parking lot. The standstill persisted for the better part of an hour. I'm sure hundreds of commuters were stuck in that mess on Tuesday, wishing they had known about it in advance.

There's an easy way to be alerted to injury traffic crashes in Lincoln. Get the PulsePoint application, follow Lincoln Fire & Rescue, and opt in to alerts for vehicle accidents and expanded vehicle accidents in the app's settings. Now, when LF&R is dispatched to an injury crash, you'll get a notification on your device.

One tip, though: when you start setting up notifications on things like traffic crashes and fires, you'll want to go into settings on your iPhone, and find the do not disturb feature. It's there in Android, as well, though you may have to dig a little bit. You probably don't want to be awakened when a drunk driver plows into a parked care across town at 2:32 AM!