Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Maytag repairman

The job of Internal Affairs is to investigate allegations of serious police misconduct and make recommendations to me regarding the validity of the complaint. A thorough, impartial, and timely investigation protects officers from wrongful accusations and the public from police misconduct.

An interesting phenomenon is underway at the Lincoln Police Department. The Internal Affairs Unit is becoming something like the Maytag repair man. So far this year, Internal Affairs has conducted only seven investigations, after failing to crack into the 20's for two consecutive years. The downturn in caseload is steady and remarkable, and has occurred during a time period that the number of officers have been increasing.
The same thing has been true with the Citizen Police Advisory Board, created by Municipal Ordinance in 1975 to receive complaints independently. The Board has had a few goose eggs in recent years, and hasn't cracked into double digits in over a decade. These trends are a testament to exemplary conduct by our police officers.
With the trend of falling numbers of investigations by Internal Affairs continuing it now appears that in 2007, we will reach an all time low since the Internal Affairs Unit was founded 31 years ago by Chief George K. Hansen. Check out the byline on this article about the Unit's formation from the Lincoln Star in March, 1976 (click to enlarge):
A remarkable story about an apparent failure of discipline appeared in the Denver Post this past weekend. This is not what how you want to see your police department highlighted on the front page, whether you're a citizen of Denver or a Denver police officer. I am confident citizens in Lincoln need not worry about our commitment to maintaining high professional standards.


Tom Casady said...

Anonymous 9:14 AM :

Cute, but unfortunately, I had to moderate your comment. Now 300 people will ask me what I redacted!

BTW, the Maytag repairman wears many other hats, and I had him collecting some historical data for me recently that is pretty interesting. Part of it is contained in the graph, but here's another tidbit:

At LPD, commendations for outstanding performance are triple disciplinary actions!

Anonymous said...

So, why is the byline something to checkout? Who is Gordon Winters?

Tom Casady said...

Thirty one years later, this young reporter is the opinion page editor at the Lincoln Journal Star.

Anonymous said...

My layman's instinct tells me that if a PD has a reputation for being a clean PD, it will tend to attract more recruits of a higher caliber. The clean PD then gets to skim off the best of the best out of the applicant pool and maintains high quality, which attracts mre highly qualified applicants, and so on.

A PD that has a rep for being dirty would probably tend to attract more recruits that wouldn't be so picky about ethics, and fewer recruits of the high caliber that are drawn to a clean PD. In fact, a "dirty" PD might be so short on near-ideal recruits that they'd take whatever they could get, even if they weren't quite functionally literate.

I'm probably oversimplifying things, and I could be completely wrong.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous 5:14,
Its not that simple, there are other factors at play. If you fill a certain slot, or possess a certain skill, things can be overlooked for you that wouldnt be overlooked for someone who doesnt fill a special slot. Anyone got a counter point to that.

Tom Casady said...

Yes, I have the counter point. There are certain skills and life experiences that matter--good education, military experience (particularly deployments outside the USA), bilingualism, previous law enforcement experience, come immediately to mind. But basically, anon. 5:14 is pretty realistic: success breeds success. A reputation for ethics attracts the ethical, a reputation for providing equal oppportunities for women attacts women, a reputation for valuing education attracts the educated, a reputation as hiring without regard to age attracts those with lengthy experience, and so forth. That's what we try to do, and that's how I hope we are known.

Anonymous said...

By the way, this is not on-topic, so you might choose not use it in this thread, or ignore it entirely, but...

I was interested what percentage of murders, business robberies, and auto thefts are solved in the Lincoln area. How about the same thing for those same crimes in the Omaha, KCMO, Chicago, and Denver areas.

I ask, because my impression (again, just a layman's perspective) is that very few murders go unsolved in the Lincoln area, and that the solve rates are lower in those other cities, in some sort of inverse proportion to their population, and a few other factors.

I know I could dig for this stuff, but you might already have it in a PowerPoint presentation ready for a suitable occasion.