Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Determined effort by the team

Early Monday morning's burglary of Scheel's All Sports was a frightening and frustrating affair. The frightening part was the thought that at least 84 firearms and a large amount of ammunition had been stolen in a brazen burglary of a large, well-secured, and tightly alarmed sporting goods store. Among these were some particularly powerful weapons: 4 DPMS tactical rifles, a Desert Eagle .44, a S&W .460 XVR, and scores of .45, 9MM, .40, and other handguns. Having this arsenal in the hands of criminals caused every single Lincoln police officer to cringe.

The frustrating part is that despite the alarm and the security gate, we weren't notified of the alarm until 2:12 AM, about 32 minutes after the burglars entered. After the alarm drop, the monitoring company notified the store manager, who drove to the shopping center, discovered the burglary, then called us. The burglars had a full eight minutes to pack up a trunk-load of goods valued at tens of thousands of dollars, and drive leisurely into the night.

All day, everyone from raw rookie to seasoned veteran had this crime on their mind, but later on Monday, one of our most experienced and skilled investigators developed some key information that led to a search warrant. Our SWAT Team served the warrant at around 10:00 PM, and introduced themselves to two suspects who were holed up in an apartment surrounded by loaded guns and ammo. Twenty six guns, including all the assault rifles, were recovered there, and by the end of the night, we had arrested a third suspect and recovered four more guns at other locations.

There are more than 50 pistols still missing, though, and we are all concerned. Our officers, detectives, and investigators will continue to work hard on this. Tuesday night, we made a fourth arrest, and recovered a stolen car that we believe may be connected to this gang. None of these suspects is a stranger to the police. Their ages are 16, 17, 17, and 18. More arrests will probably follow, as these guns surface. Citizens are getting a glimpse into something every Lincoln police officer knows well: this is not a quiet little city where nothing much happens. Under the surface and after most people in bed, we're no different than any other big city: we have a hard core criminal element, a thriving drug problem, and more soul less gangsters than the general public realizes. Our biggest fear is this: as time goes by, the guns are dispersed to the four winds and into the criminal subculture we see so regularly.

There is a silver lining in this dark cloud for me. When the major crime occurs and the fire is in the breech, the officers and employees of this department pull together with a determination that is an incredible thing to witness and be part of. I can't possibly explain how gratifying it is to see the laser-beam focus of everyone to do everything they can to contribute. Whether it's a school resource officer, a patrol officer across town, a checks and fraud investigator, or a records technician, everybody is on the case in whatever way they can contribute. Teamwork is a thing of beauty.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

LPD did a terrific job here, and would have done an equally impressive job with apprehending the burglars if they had been notified immediately (as a bank alarm might have done), instead of half an hour later. When I read that the alarm company didn't even notify the manager until 5 minutes after the burglars were already packed up and departed, my head just about exploded!

Whatever happened to the one-minute to enter the disarm code before the police are dialed philosophy? That call would have been #1 on the priority list, and it wouldn't have taken the first cruiser more than a couple of minutes to arrive on-scene, I'd bet my life on it.

Please, tell me the name of that decrepit alarm company, so that I can make a note to never use them.

Once again, the prospect of engaging a SWAT team was too stiff for the suspects to consider, even though they were definitely well-armed, which is one benefit of having such a card to play. It's one thing to trade wild shots with another thug, but another thing to take on trained professionals, so they just run up a white flag.

One thing I'd be wary of is that store being hit again, because it's been shown that their security procedures could use a lot of work.

Anonymous said...

By the way, you also did a great job on getting those handguns listed, complete with serial numbers, on the stolen items list so quickly. If anyone is interested and would like to keep a watchful eye on the used market, it's pretty evident which particular models this gang stole from the 01-OCT-07 listings (all case # A7-107405, I believe):

http://www.lincoln.ne.gov/city/police/stats/items.htm#FLOC"

JoeMerchant24 said...

Chief;

First off, nice work. The fast response of your officers and investigators brought these gremlins in before more damage was done.

I do, however, have to pick a nit with some of your terminology.

Scheel's does not sell tactical or assault rifles. The AR-style .223 rifles that were stolen are either set up for varmint hunting or competitive shooting. Scheel's has a policy (either formal or informal) about carrying "military" style firearms, which is why you won't find an SKS or M4-style AR15 available there.

This is not to downplay the danger to your officers. Your vests won't stop a rifle round whether it's from a prairie dog rifle or an actual assault rifle (which, by definition must be select-fire/full-auto).

So, while tactical and assault are nice buzzwords for the AR-style rifle, they're not accurate terms. It's akin to referring to someone's stock Toyota Camry as a "highly tuned performance machine."

Again, LPD should be commended for its fine work in this case. Kudos to you and your fine officer, Chief.

Tom Casady said...

Hey, not to mention the hard work of LPD's Property and Evidence Unit, which just gets deluged with work on these major cases. No sooner had they recuperated from a homicide and a serious assault (blood-soaked evidence is especially pleasant to deal with), then this case fills the bins.

Few can imagine the diligence with which evidence like this must be handled, cataloged, stored, and maintained. The P&E Unit's work is another example of how our support staff is just as critical to our success as the sworn force.

Anonymous said...

Casady it appears your wasting tax dollars on what appears to be alot of crusiers not being used or alot of officers with nothing to do. What I'm refering to is a dozen or so crusiers setting in the parking lot at 27th and Holdrege all day.

Tom Casady said...

Okay, despite my suspicions, I'm not sure you're Rod, so I'm letting you in. The police department operates 24/7/365, and not everyone is on duty at all times and on all days. Those patrol cars, for the most part, are assigned to people who happen to be off-duty right now--either due to their shift or their days off.

We do not run cars back-to-back-to-back on all three shifts for all seven days of the week for several reasons. They wear out that much quicker, there is no down time for routine maintenance, the officer coming on-duty has to wait for the officer going off-duty to actually arrive if two people are sharing a car on back-to-back shifts, we have to overlap shifts in a rather complex pattern to avoid depleting personnel on the street, there is an incredible amount of gear and equipment that each officer has to have with him or her, and it's not all the same for each officer, and so forth. At any given time, roughly 35% of our entire fleet of marked units will be in use, on average.

Anonymous said...

Chief,
Kind of off target, but, what are your thoughts on outfitting the whole dept in uniforms similar to the K-9 officers uniforms? Tactical, affordable and DURABLE would be a nice change from our current band uniforms, I'm sure most involved would agree.

Anonymous said...

Chief,
I live in the Clinton neighborhood and I was curious as if the name of the gang these kids are involved in was going to be released?

Anonymous said...

Could someone tell me what band uniforms and too many cars in the parking lot have to do with a gun burglary or teamwork?

Chief, my compliments for being able to work your way through the fog.

Lincoln residents really don't understand how truly lucky they are to have a law enforcement agency of this caliber in their midst. There are more than a couple policies and procedures I disagree with, but on the average, LPD is doing a great job from this citizen's view.

Tom Casady said...

Answered in my comment in resonse to a similar discussion on August 9, it's about the fifth comment up from the bottom in the "Latest on the Budget" post. $400,000 would be the primary impediment to a uniform makeover.

I'm not too hot on BDUs(see the various comments people made on Sept. 6 "From Across the River"). There are some nice new materials and styles, though, that I still think look sharp and perform well.

Personally, I'm a fan of solid navy blue. I wouldn't mind dropping the stripe and adding a side pocket (not bellows). I've seen some pretty nice uniform slacks like that, most recently in Madison. Coolmax shirts seem nice to me, and I like lightweight Goretex jackets, and non-clarino leather. I think in really cold weather, you could add a navy fleece vest under the Goretex.

Everyone has their own preference, though, and the bottom dollar is that nobody has $400K + laying around. If you haven't heard, we've got a City budget crunch.

Tom Casady said...

No, we probably won't be talking about the gang name. We don't like giving publicity to gangs or adding to their noteriety by throwing their title around. It's no big secret, though.

Anonymous said...

Well Chief, though your intentions were good, the World Herald already took care of releasing the gang name. I was pretty upset with the OWH releasing the gang name.

http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=2798&u_sid=10149064

Anonymous said...

I know this won't happen, but would love to see the minors in this group charged with minors in possession of a handgun. Unless things have changed don't you need to be 18 to legally possess a handgun? Charging each of these dorks w/ 75+ counts of that simple misdemeanor - works for me.

Problem is finding a judge who would be willing to sentence them to 3 months consecutive instead of concurrent....

I know, I'm a dreamer.

Anonymous said...

Chief I know you like to throw out big numbers when on the uniform issue $400,000. I was wondering why some of these issues can't be handled by purchasing these items at different times. We should be able to get by with the same tops and coats if all we are changing is the fact of not having the stripe on the side of the pants. We also dont need the new duty rigs. Buying only the pants would save money and if a more comfortable pant were issued, make the employees happier.

Tom Casady said...

Fine, then make that $101 K instead, to get everyone four pairs of slacks (How many do you have?). Still don't have it. As long we look uniform, look sharp, wear something that holds up to wear, and fits within our budget, I don't care. Show me the money. I'm a little tired of being trashed for being the impediment to a uniform change. We managed to scrape together a few hundred thousand dollars to rearm the department a few years ago, I guess some more pockets would have been a better choice?

Tom Casady said...

Okay, that was a little over-reactive. You were just trying to make a constructive suggestion. I'm sorry I unloaded.

I guess it was the "you like to throw around big numbers" that sent me over the edge. With over 300 uniformed employees, the numbers really are pretty big, and the fundage is non-existent.

ex LPD said...

Tom...your 7:33 posting sounds like a typical 4am e-mail that "Barks" said to NEVER send....remember...have Ginny get your coffee BEFORE you reply.