Thursday, April 26, 2007

LSU v. UNL

I am in Baton Rouge, Louisiana this morning, at LSU. I flew in last night, I have a speaking engagement at the Louisiana Sheriff's Association this morning, and I'll fly back to Lincoln this afternoon.

LSU's Campus-Community Coalition for Change brought me here, and I will be addressing a group of about 75 people this morning about the importance of law enforcement in community efforts to reduce the impact of high-risk drinking by young adults. I'll be sharing some strategies that have been successful for us.

LSU and UNL are part of a program called A Matter of Degree. We are a group of major University's who have been involved in campus-community coalitions to reduce high-risk drinking by college students. Our coalition is NU Directions, which I co-chair with Dr. Juan Franco, UNL's Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. We are something of the poster child for success in Lincoln, where (believe it or not) the high-risk drinking rate by UNL students has fallen significantly and consistently since we started our efforts in 1998. Enforcement has been only one part of those efforts.

After my flight arrived, Dr. Nancy Mathews drove me around campus. Except for the huge 200-300 year old oaks, LSU looks a lot like UNL. Some of the surrounding neighborhoods look pretty similar to the transitional neighborhoods in Lincoln where lots of students live, and the college bars look quite familiar. Baton Rouge is a little smaller than Lincoln: we're 239,213 at the Census Bureau's most recent population estimate, while Baton Rouge is 227,818.

Back at my hotel, I decided to spruce up my PowerPoint a little bit. I was on the Baton Rouge Police Department's website when I noticed something interesting in the FAQs section at the bottom of their main home page:

How Big is the Department?

The Baton Rouge Police Department is authorized to employ 645 sworn officers, 44 communications officers, 34 other specialized police personnel, and 189 civilians, for a maximum allotment of 912 employees.
Lincoln, by comparison has 317 police officers and 105 civilian employees. Baton Rouge--a little smaller than Lincoln, a State Capital, home of a big University with a fairly successful football team--has a police department that is more than twice our size. I hope no one tries to tell me later this morning that they don't have the time to mess with minors in possession of alcohol.
Actually, they might have a point there. Last year, Baton Rouge had 56 murders. Lincoln would have to add up the past decade to reach that number. Let this final score for 2006 sink in:
Baton Rouge 56
Lincoln 5
You suppose alcohol played a role in those 56 murders, or in their 1,727 robberies, or 1,757 aggravated assaults? That will be my point: if you can have a small impact on high-risk drinking, it will help protect young people.
We take a fair amount of heat at LPD for the work we do in liquor license enforcement, DWI enforcement, efforts to control large drinking parties, and the like. A few years ago, some researchers right here at LSU studied alcohol-related deaths in 107 of the largest cities in the United States. The lowest rate: Lincoln. The reason:
"Regulations related to alcohol accessibility, licensure of alcohol outlets, disciplinary procedures of alcohol outlets, and enforcement of laws were associated with lower rates of fatalities."
That would be us.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

hurry back. i don't want to hear a southern drawl next time i hear you speak.

Anonymous said...

When you come back, bring about 200 of their 650 cops with you. Please.

Anonymous said...

Lincoln should have selective DUI check points as the bars close. I have seen people "fall" into the car after bars close.
barbreak.net

Anonymous said...

While you're there, figure out how they have so many cops and bring that strategy back here to the City Council. We are in desperate need wether you want to admit it or not.

Anonymous said...

how about we invite their chief here, and he can tell us how to hire more police officers for the street, sure would be a site to see if there were more than 5 officers on a shift per team....

Steven Holman said...

Chief:

I am glad you started this blog, and generally think you are doing a good job. I'm curious, though, why you would be asked to speak on the policies LPD has on campus drinking problems when UNL scored third in the country on binge drinking. Could it be they want to know what not to do?

Steve

Anonymous said...

LPD doesn't take calls on campus. Because UNL is so high on the binge drinking list it spills over off campus and that's what LPD takes care of before it gets out of hand. That's why he's teaching the Baton Rouge police, not LSU cops, how to do what LPD does. It shouldn't much of a problem for them since they have twice as many cops as LPD. Sounds like they have more crime though.