Friday, September 21, 2007

A sea of red (and yellow)

After last weekend's football game, Nebraska v. USC, I was somewhat flooded with complaints about the failure of our police officers to stop all the public urination. One of the complaints was forwarded to me by City Council member John Spatz from a constituent who was particularly upset that there were no police around in his neighborhood:
"Parties started at 8 am and didn't even break for the game at 7 pm, and continued unabated until the wee hours...the situation as "anarchy".... as for urination in public: I stopped counting at 30 and that was just at one party...."
This particular citizen wanted more police in his neighborhood to patrol around preventing this kind of problem. It's a neighborhood close to the stadium, where everyone with an empty lot or a back yard off the alley seems to rent $10 parking spaces. Trouble is, they don't rent out their toilets. As I explained to Councilman Spatz, when a few thousand people descend on a neighborhood, drink, eat, and make merry, nature will inevitably take its course, and if there aren't banks of porta potties there will be trees, walls, and bushes, whether the police are around or not.

We have our hands very full on game days. Along with directing traffic to get 85,000 into and out of the Stadium, we handled 474 incidents on Saturday, Sept. 15, including 31 thefts, 2 rapes, 8 missing persons, 7 child abuses, 3 death investigations, 29 assaults, 31 traffic accidents, 104 disturbances, and so forth. It's not very realistic to expect that the police will be available very much to drive around streets and lots issuing citations for public urination. We give it a good try, though, and there are hundreds of citations issued annually for this.

Jean Chalupsky, in a letter to the editor in Monday's Omaha World Herald, described a similar scene:
"As I approached Memorial Stadium at 5:30 p.m. with my aging parents, Iviewed at least 12 males urinating on the sidewalk in open view. Even more were carrying open beer cans."
I called Ms. Calupsky on the phone and we had a nice chat. I wanted to pinpoint the area, and it was right where I suspected, near the pedestrian exit to a large private parking lot where the tailgating was particularly spirited, so to speak. Her take on the situation was different than most. She wasn't concerned so much about the lack police to take enforcement action (she realized we were quite busy), rather, she thought the problem was largely the lack of facilities when the need was so obvious and could be predicted so far in advance.

Not every problem is a police problem, and not every problem responds well to police presence or enforcement. Ms. Chalupsky is quite correct. In this case, the problem is not the lack of police officers or tickets, it's the lack of toilets. We can help, though. We need to make sure that the large lots (often just a field during the other 358 days of the year) are taking care of business, so to speak. That's what we'll be trying to do as the season continues--contact whoever owns or leases those lots and make they understand the nuances of Lincoln's municipal ordinance 9.20.030, Maintaining a Disorderly House, which, despite the name, applies to any premise--not just a house.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

It never ceases to amaze me how the most trivial problems are always the result of a lack of police presence.

Obviously some citizens in this town have their heads permanantly stuck in the sand. How can they not be aware of the limited resources (i.e. officers) that this city has, and yet still expect the police to respond to every beck and call?

You would think that when these complaints are made to council members they would have the ability to respond themselves rather than forward it to the chief. Perhaps they could explain how the resistance to property taxes in this city results in limited services...

Anonymous said...

Urination is not bad, it is actually good fertilizer for the land/plants/trees/bushes. What did people in the old days do without tiolets? They just squatted in the woods and let nature take its course. The police has more important things to worry about than someone just relieving themselves. Oh the horror!

Anonymous said...

At least the pee dries up and disappears. More discusting than that is all the gum on the sidewalks in beautiful downtown Lincoln. I've got an idea, on Friday and Saturday nights when all those cops are standing around trying to look intimadating, make putty knives part of their equiment and put them to work scrapping gum off the walks. At least will be getting something for our tax dollar.

Anonymous said...

Ah, but life is unfair! It's so much easier for males to urinate in public. What would the response be if women were doing it at the same rate as the men?

Anonymous said...

I suspect it would be nil. Most guys don't get upset about seeing someone peeing in public.

Anonymous said...

Depends on how hot she is.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like even the necessarily sparse Police presence downtown is nevertheless cramping the style of some semi-professional binge drinkers. Now we see why some people reflexively hate all law enforcement - it puts their knickers in a twist and can cause sobriety.

How about we station Police at the exits to the most popular college bars on Friday and Saturday nights, where they could breath-test everyone that comes out. If they're too "lit up", they get the choice of scrapping[sic] this apparently horrible gum menace off the sidewalks with their fingernails (a putty knife is a weapon, don't you know), or else getting a disturbing the peace ticket and being hauled to detox. That'd take care of the "gum problem".

If some low-GPA students spent more time looking in textbooks and doing their problem sets, editing papers one more go, and so forth, they'd have little time to work on their curious goal of liver failure, as well as never again flirting with academic probation. That would remedy much of the public intoxication golden-shower plague.

Anonymous said...

Have you noticed how no one ever complains about a female urinating in public? HUMMMMMMMMM.

Anonymous said...

I understand that urinating is a 'big crime', but requesting extra patrol for it, when there are drugs and guns on the street... That seems silly. Maybe a special band of 'pee patrol' Officers could be formed... I smell a state grant in the making....

Anonymous said...

anonymous 11:20 p.m., Wow you're a genius. I think you should be the chief.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, this is just too funny - the thought of the "Pee Pee Police."

jenn said...

Ok "anonymous" 4:24 (9/21) Why don't you get a detail out there and scrape off all the gum if your so hell bent on it. Also, if you think the Police are a waste of tax dollars, why don't you step up and go on a ride along and see what the supposed waste of tax dollars are going to. Also, sign your name to a comment like what you made.