Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Last lineup

Capt. David Beggs worked his final shift at the Lincoln Police Department last night, closing out a career of over 40 years. Dave began as a police cadet in the early 1970s, and was an experienced
street officer when I started, well-known for his growling voice and his uncanny ability to spot drunk drivers. He and I worked together in the Training Unit during the early 1980s: he was the Field Training Coordinator, I handled the Academy and in-service.

In the 1990s, Dave was the Captain commanding the  Southwest Team. His longest assignment, however, was as Duty Commander: the officer in charge f all police operations on a shift. One of the jobs of the Duty Commander is to conduct roll call (we call it "lineup" at LPD) for officers at the beginning of their shift.

Apparently a Cub Scout troop was at HQ for a tour last night, and when they arrived in the assembly room at about 7:45 PM, Capt. Beggs conducted lineup for them. Thus, Dave's last lineup was to Den 97, a nice little story that made it's way to me courtesy of Officer Cassi Nissen, who sent me these snapshots. She said the Cubs peppered Capt. Beggs with questions, and had a great time.

Dave is an interesting guy. He is a law school graduate, a black belt and instructor in judo. He scares the bejabbers out of new reporters and rookie police officers, as he did my teenage daughter, when their paths crossed doing volunteer work several years ago. Within two weeks, she had completely changed her tune. She learned, as most everyone eventually does, that Dave Beggs is a compassionate, caring, committed man, who anyone would be fortunate to call a friend. Congratulations on a great career, David, and best wishes in your next adventure.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Uniformed officers rock!

Reading reports this morning, I encountered case number B5-005807, a robbery at gunpoint of a pizza delivery driver last night around 10:00 PM. Officer Russell Schoenbeck was assigned, and enlisted a lot of assistance from his fellow officers on the late night shift. In short order, the officers had tracked back a telephone number, and obtained a suspicious vehicle description from a neighborhood canvas. It wasn't long before other officers spotted the vehicle on the move, swooped in for the stop, and located key evidence. The suspects were taken into custody. All in all, great work leading to a good arrest.

It's the second robbery of a pizza delivery driver this year, and may have prevented more of these. We had seven delivery drivers robbed last year. What makes me especially pleased about this case is the initiative shown by all involved. Trust me, in many police department's of this size around the country, the uniformed officer would have done a preliminary investigation, filed an Incident Report, and been done. A detective would be assigned to the case a day or three later, and by that time the followup trail would be cold.

Not so in Lincoln, where our uniformed street officers have the training, skill, and experience to initiate their own followup investigation immediately. It's expected by all, and practiced regularly. This is why LPD officers who relocate to other departments are typically tapped for criminal investigations assignments in short order: they've got plenty of experience interviewing, processing evidence, obtaining search warrants, and similar tasks that are not necessarily common for uniformed officers in other big cities where the street officers don't have the same experience in the details of criminal investigation.

It's also why a number of LPD officers over the years have been tapped by the DEA, ATF, FBI, Secret Service, and have hit the ground running. They've accumulated talents, skill, and practice that many city officers just don't get very much opportunity to develop.

It hasn't always been that way. When I first pinned on the badge, every uniformed officer's badge was embossed with "Traffic Division," and we weren't expected to be bright enough to actually conduct investigations. That was the realm of the detectives, who stepped in and took over anything much bigger than a drunk or a panhandler. It was the source of considerable frustration for many uniformed officers of my era, who yearned for more respect, greater responsibility, and job enrichment.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Suicide data part 5

This is the last post in this short series, consisting of 13 charts and two maps. I put all these data together last week for Lincoln's latest suicide prevention coalition, but thought it might be of interest to my blog readers. One of the benefits of posting projects like this on my blog is that it becomes a readily available reference later on. I can get to it quickly with a search, and if send others a hyperlink to the post if I get inquiries in the future, something that has proven quite useful to me over the years.

This final post is the only one that uses data for the past 10 years, rather than the past 20. I don't have geocoded Incident Reports until the late 1990s, so for these maps I used the past decade. The map of suicides simply shows that suicides occur in all parts of the city, with a concentration at the center in Lincoln's historic core.  This is also the area with some of Lincoln's highest population density, though.

The second map combines both suicide and attempted suicide. It also accounts for differences in population density by depicting the rate of these incidents, rather than the number.  Rate is calculated by counting the number of incidents within each of the 2010 census block groups, then dividing that by its population. The red CBGs in the center of Lincoln with high rates also have elevated rates for other kinds of social ills--violent crime, domestic violence, child abuse, drug offenses, registered sex offenders, and so forth. If you search my blog for the GIS tag in the label cloud, and scroll through eight years of posts, you will see many other maps that show a similar pattern.

An outlier, the triangular red area in south Lincoln just south of Highway 2, is a census block group that includes a concentration of moderate income apartments. The two larger orange block groups in northwest and northeast Lincoln are CBGs with comparatively small population denominators, so it doesn't take many incidents to impact the rate. You'll notice lots of yellow down in south Lincoln. Maybe there's something to this.  Click each map for a larger view.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Suicide data part 4

This next-to-the last installment of the series concerns the race of suicide victims, method of suicide, and month of year. The race breakdown is for all ages, but is mirrored when you look at youth 10-24 separately. The most notable thing about race is the over-representation of white victims: 92% vs. 86% of the population. Black victims are under-represented (2% vs. 5.3%), as are Hispanic victims (3% vs. 6.3%) and Asian victims (1% vs. 3.8%). The numbers are small, however, so these differences may not have much statistical power.

In the charts showing method, you will note that firearms are the leading method for all suicides, but for youth age 10-24, hanging is the most common method. There are big differences by gender, overdose being most common for women, and firearms for men. I'm slightly surprised that only 5% of the youth suicides were by overdose, compared to the overall suicides, where overdose is the third most common method at 20% of the total. Jumping seems to have been in the news often lately, but is actually one of the least common methods of suicide.

I don't see anything particularly noteworthy in the month of year charts, except for this: The peak months for youth 1-24 are all during the school year. The number are small, but when you do the same thing for attempted suicide--a much larger quantity--the same is true: all the peak months are in the school year. Perhaps this would point to the value of awareness by school personnel and peers, as they may be in a good position to intervene when a student or classmate is evidencing signs of suicidal ideation or heightend risk. Click each chart for a larger view.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Anniversary of a memorable case

I interrupt my current blog series on suicide data for a moment, to reminisce about one of the most memorable days in a few 40 year careers policing Lincoln. Ten years ago today, on the morning of January 14, 2005, Officer Scott Arnold and Sgt. Ken Koziol nabbed a serial bank robber culminating a rather incredible (but very short) special project. I was in my office glued to the police radio that morning, having a hard time believing what I was hearing--and then smiling from ear to ear.

This was without doubt one of the most noteworthy cases during my tenure as police chief. Intuition, initiative, good planning, and determination were all involved, along with some top-notch crime analysis, and a healthy dose of just plain good luck. If you are a crime analyst, a detective, a street cop, or a even a deskbound chief, it just doesn't get much better than this.

Here is the contemporary Lincoln Journal Star news story by Margaret Reist from the day of the arrest. A more detailed account, including a description of the analysis that supported "Rolling the Dice," appears in Crime Mapping Case Studies: Practice and Research, 2008, edited by Spencer Chainey and Lisa Thompson.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sucide data part 3

The next data in this short series depicts the age groups and gender breakdown for suicide and suicide attempted reported to the Lincoln police over the past 20 years. It might be good to consider that suicide is probably much more consistently identified and reported to the police than attempted suicide, which may or may not come to the attention of the police. Most notable to me is the difference in the gender of suicide compared to attempted suicide. Click each chart for a larger view.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Suicide data part 2

I spent a few hours last week compiling some data on suicide and attempted suicide, and published the first few charts on my blog Friday. This is the next installment in this short series. Friday's data concerned the number of suicides and attempts. Today's charts concern the rate: the number of suicides and attempts divided by the population. These charts express the rate as the number of incidents per 100,000 population. Lincoln has grown by more than 60,000 over the 20 years covered by these data. The rate calculation allows a comparison over time that takes into account that population growth. Click each chart for a larger view.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Suicide data part 1

I blogged a few weeks ago about the newest suicide prevention coalition in Lincoln, of which I am a member. The second meeting is coming up, and I volunteered to assemble some data. My IT staff extracted .csv files from the police records management system for me. I dropped these into an Excel workbook and attacked the data with pivot tables and filters, creating several charts, and a couple maps with ArcGIS for the coalition. I've invested about four hours in this project.

There weren't any big surprises for me, but it is rather interesting to examine this over such a long period, and may be informative to the other coalition members. The four charts below show the year-by-year trend over the past two decades for completed and attempted suicides. These data show that attempts are relatively flat despite a population increase of over 60,000, while completed suicides and trending up.

The group is focusing on young people in the age range of 10 through 24. As a result, I have broken out charts specifically for that age group in addition to the overall data. I'll publish a few more next week, so this will be a series of about four posts. If you click on each graph, you will get a larger version that is easier to read.