Thursday, August 2, 2007

Deja vu, all over again

First, review this previous post, Making ends meet. Then, click this thumbnail for evidence of history repeating itself.

7 comments:

Tom Casady said...

The Lincoln Police Department's small size in comparison to other cities is not new. Forty seven years ago, LPD was .82 officers per thousand population below the average. Today, we are .69 officers per thousand below the average of the 51 U.S. Cities that are within 50,000 of our population in either direction, so the gap has closed a little bit. Another way of looking at that is that we are 69 officers per 100,000 citizens smaller than average. With a population of 242,000, we'd need to have an additional 167 officers to be "average."


That 28% turnover rate in 1958-59 is more than four times what we experience today. The high turnover rate continued for twenty years--until about 1980: just ask Bill Larsen or Clair Lindquist how they became sergeants at the ripe old age of 24 (or was it 23, Clair?). Over the past 15 years, we have averaged 6.7% per year. When you exclude recruit failures, the post-training average drops to 4.8% per year. The most common cause: retirement.

Atticus said...

Now, add in the additional responsibilities of today's LPD versus LPD (or any police dept) from 47 years ago, and I'm sure the shortage is even more pronounced. Today's police officer wears many more hats than ever before, and the number of additional responsibilities being added/identified doesn't seem to be slowing down. These range from the types of calls being dispatched, to the reporting needed to be done to document these calls. The citizens of Lincoln get a HUGE bang for their buck with LPD as compared to other cities. Imagine what things would be like if we climbed the mountain and rose to the level of AVERAGE officers per 1,000 citizens!

Anonymous said...

Atticus...you have to admit, the department is beginning to take baby steps towards reducing services. Although these services may not greatly impact the citizens to a point where they feel the shortage like we do, they alleviate some of the workload that takes more time than work. (abandoned bikes, gas drive offs)
But, I agree with you...the department services offered back then just simply isn't the same as today. We've allowed the public to become much too dependent on calling for us everytime someone looks at them wrong, waters on the wrong day, cuts them off in traffic, blows their snow into the street, says a naughty or offensive word in their presence...I could go on forever. I wish these types of situations would be addressed more.

Tom Casady said...

atticus:

I'll grant this, police work today has never been more complex and intellectually demanding, IMHO.

But there were lots of responsiblities 47 years ago that would be almost laughable today, and some of these occupied major amounts of time and energy for our prececessors. And if you really think the reporting requirements are so much greater today, you need to find Ron Flansburg and ask him to explain the Complaint form, the Offense Report, and the Activity Sheet. Old reports and responsiblities have fallen away, new ones have emerged, and change has inevitably taken place, but I think it might be overstating the case to assume that what we do today is harder, better, more dangerous or sillier than it was in 1959. I suspect the answer is yes, and no.

Ask John Hewitt about O Street time, hanging 10, money transfers, funeral escorts, bank openings, lock-outs, pebbles on doorknobs, complaint sets, bike licensing, stray dogs, private property accidents, and pigeon control. I think you'll discover a whole range of police activities you wouldn't dream of today--just as there are lots of things we do today that our predecessors could hardly imagine.

At the core, though, the similarities vastly outweigh the differences: the distrubances, burglars, mental health cases, runaways, traffic incidents, assaults, are timeless.

Sometimes it's good to remember that the history of LPD begins 135 years ago--not in 1999 or 2002. Anytime we think something is a "first," it probably isn't. Any time we think things are bad, they were probably worse. The past 65 years are especially well-documented, and the evidence that history repeats itself can be found on almost every page!

Anonymous said...

pebbles on doorknobs?

Tom Casady said...

Yes, similar to cigarettes butts on tires. I'm serious, ask him.

Daveh219 said...

aaaahhhhh....the infamous "rock on the door knob". Tom, you'll have to "branch out" to some of the old-timers who actually "walked the beat" back in the '60-'70's and post a blog about the "good 'ole days". At one point in time older Omaha PD officers actually fought for the foot patrol spots because they were on their own and actually got to feel like community police officers.
Most of us learned our basic skills of TALKING to people during that time...instead of just taking a report.