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!

Friday, September 2, 2016

The busy season

Today marks the start of a busy season for Lincoln's public safety personnel. LPD has already cracked 400 daily incidents a couple times in the recent past, including 411 yesterday, Thursday September 1st. Last year, the busiest single day for Lincoln police officers, with 443 events dispatched, was September 5, 2015--the Saturday of Nebraska's home football game with BYU. Tomorrow's 2016 home opener with Fresno State will be similar, and today's pre-game will be no slouch, either

Five of the busiest six day for the police last year were the Fridays and Saturdays of home football games. The lone exception was May 7, the day of an unusual flooding event that inundated parts of Lincoln's south bottoms neighborhood.

September 5, 2015 was also the busiest day last year for Lincoln Fire & Rescue, with 128 incidents.  The day of the flood, May 7, was number two, but after that the lists diverge for police and fire. July 4 was pretty hectic for both, ranking 12th for LPD and 7th for LF&R

My rough count shows 47 officers and 16 firefighters with game-related duties tomorrow, and that's on top of all the other usual stuff associated with a busy fall weekend when tens of thousands of visitors descend on the City. Fortunately, it's a night game and the weather will be mild, which may take some of the edge off.

As busy as it gets during these weekends, it's also an exciting time for public safety professionals. The police officers, firefighters, and dispatchers who make it all work are generally exhausted in an oddly pleasant way when it all wraps up. My hope is that it comes off safely, and everyone eventually hits a cool pillow for a good and well-deserved rest sometime on Sunday morning.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Graffiti not as common

A couple years ago I blogged about the falling number of vandalism cases in Lincoln, and particularly the decline in graffiti vandalism. I attributed that decline, in part, to Lincoln's graffiti abatement ordinances, adopted in 2006, and to good work by William Carver at the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department.

I have an automated report that spawns every afternoon to let Mr. Carver know about new graffiti cases. I also direct a copy to myself, and have thought I was noticing unusually small numbers this year. I ran the data. Sure enough, the decline I noted back in 2014 has continued and has even gone significantly deeper in 2015 and 2016.  So far this year, LPD has handled 152 graffiti cases. Here's a graph that shows that same time period over the past six years. That is a mighty dramatic drop in a crime that was already falling significantly.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Call processing time improving

Time is of the essence in cardiac and respiratory arrest. When your heart stops pumping blood, and when you cannot breathe effectively, you're a goner unless something intervenes to change things mighty quickly.

We often talk about the importance of having fire stations strategically located and the importance of rapid turnout times by firefighters and paramedics. You don't hear much, however, about the critical role of the first first responders: the dispatchers.

When someone calls 911, the response is not instantaneous. In all but the smallest 911 centers, the job of fielding the phone call is separated from the job of radio dispatching: the call taker gathers the information, then forwards it to a dispatch position when enough has been collected to know who needs to be sent, where, and with what level of response--basic life support, advanced life support, multiple units, lights and sirens or not, and so forth.

This all takes a little time. Callers don't always know their exact location, and cannot always communicate clearly right away. Even in the best circumstances, call takers must ask clarifying questions:

"Are you with the patient?"
"Is she breathing normally?"
"Is she clammy?"
"Did she take any drugs or medications in the past 12 hours?"

... and so forth. The basic details are often forwarded to the dispatcher as this questioning continues, but even then the dispatcher has to read the call information, decide what to do, find some clear air time on the radio, and actually say the words necessary to set the responders in motion. It takes longer than you might think. This interval of time, from the 911 ring to the dispatch of the responders, is known as call processing time.

Earlier this year, Lincoln's 911 Center implemented some changes to our protocol, under the supervision of our medical director, to try to shave a few seconds from the call processing time for the highest priority medical emergencies. Our medical director also did some great staff training to improve the ability of our dispatchers to recognize an ineffective respiration pattern known as agonal breathing.

The results of this enhanced training the protocol tweak have been impressive thus far. These changes were implemented on June 1st, and since that date we have dispatched 79 presumptive cardiac arrest events. The call processing time on these was 31 seconds faster than the 51 incidents dispatched during the same time period in 2015. The numbers are still rather small, but that is a huge improvement, and if it holds, represents an accomplishment that will contribute significantly to survivability.

My hat is off to our medical director, Dr. Kruger, and to the 911 Center staff. These early results are very encouraging, and I will keep tabs on the call processing time as we gather more experience.