Monday, October 8, 2007

Problems all weekend

Last weekend the police department had the audacity to write a few parking meter tickets, spurring an angry Saturday call from a disgruntled citizen, now this weekend two more unhappy campers contacted me personally. The first, a resident of the Arnold Heights neighborhood, is a hard-working taxpayer who is absolutely fed up with the cars driving on NW 48th Street and NW 49th Street playing their stereos so loud. We, of course, do nothing about it, and he isn't interested in hearing our usual lame excuses.

The second one, though, was a perplexing problem in another area of town, and arrived Sunday evening via email. It was a little long-winded, so here's the applicable excerpts:
"Hi Tom, I was kind disappointed with your police officers & they acted like
they don't want to do anything about it. We had duplex next door to us on
west side & never have any problem with them at all until the boys move
there last year on the north side of duplex. Every time they mow the lawn,
they mow the grass all over our driveway & I'm getting tired of cleaning up
their mess. I told them to clean it up when get done & they don't want
to do it....So what should I do Tom? Like I said, I'm getting tired of
cleaning up their mess when mow the grass all over the driveway. The
police department don't want to do nothing about it...."
While this mayhem went unattended by the police, we responded to 818 incidents on Saturday and Sunday. This included 6 sexual assaults, 17 narcotics cases, 48 thefts, 213 disturbances, 11 child abuse cases, 15 missing persons, 30 assaults, 17 alarms, 40 traffic accidents, and 3 death investigations.

One Monday at a public pre-council meeting, a City Council member (not currently serving), asked me with a completely straight face if we couldn't do more about people who flick cigarette butts out of their car windows.


Anonymous said...

Are you getting geared up for the change in season that can be marked by "My neighbor raked leaves into the street" followed by "They run their snow blower to early in the morning".
-the poor speller

Anonymous said...

That's not unreasonable! I have similar problems in my area. My neighbor trims his hedge in an odd way, detracting from the perfect way I trim our shrubs. The top surface of his hedge deviates as much as half a degree from level.

Please arrest him and make him trim his shrubs the same way I trim mine, using laser surveying equipment to ensure perfect alignment (never mind that as soon as I get to the other end of the hedge, the starting end has already grown beyond spec).

On a related note, Lincoln has too many squirrels! They chew the little branches out of the trees so that they can pilfer the acorns that belong to me. I demand that you arrest half of them.

Anonymous said...

Should have told the ex-city council member, they should have voted to increase LPD's budget so you could create an "out-the-window-cigarette-flicking team" That would have shut them up real quick!!!! :)

Jay Curtman...The Singing Cop said...

I'm glad our little town is just that,...little. Keep up the good work, Chief!

Anonymous said...

My neighbors outside light bothers me, my six year old wont go to bed, that guy looked at me funny, my sons case worker told me to call the police whenever he doesnt follow the rules,,,OOOHHHHHHH public,,if you only knew what the street cops get dispatched to in this town.

Anonymous said...

My neighbors throw bread out for the squirrels. Last night the rain got to the bread before the squirrels did and oh what a mess it made of my fescue. I want TIU on it like yesterday because this nonsense must cease immediately.

On a lighter note Chief, it would be great if humans would be humans and just politely say something to their neighbor if they have a little beef instead of running inside to call 441-6000. All in a days work I guess.

Anonymous said...

Was the council aware that there were calls held on fri and sat nights for over 4 hours???

sick of it said...

Or that some of the teams were below minimum Friday and Saturday nights?

Anonymous said...

Cant the police just decline to respond to silly calls like this?

Tom Casady said...

Yes, and we do decline--quite often. Obviously, I'm not sending anyone over to take care of the grass clipping caper. Unless they've actually worked at the Police Service Desk or in the Communications Center, most officers are even unaware of the frequency with which call takers tell citizens "No, we won't send the police out on a barking dog, a visitation dispute, to get your mini-fridge from your ex-boyfriend, to tell your neighbor not to put his waste oil in the trash, to investigate the wrong number that's called your cell phone twice this week, or to prevent the people across the street from parking their car so it blocks your view of the mailbox."

Nevertheless, anyone who's been a police officer anywhere has been dispatched to calls just like this from time to time.

Call-takers have varying levels of skill, savvy, and experience in dealing with the odd and the unusual, so whether it hits the dispatcher's screen sometimes is a function of that. Additionally, sometimes as a call taker, you have to wonder what exactly is going on at the other end of the line, and err on the side of caution. If somebody calls the police because their six year old won't go the bed, you may be wondering things like: "Is the parent drunk or high?", "Is there abuse or neglect going on?", "Do I really have someone who has a mental or medical condition that needs attention here?", and so forth.

People call the police for a lot of bizarre things because they can, nobody else is available 24/7/365. I actually took a call in my office on the speaker phone a couple years ago, with Lincoln Journal Star reporter Aaron Sanderford sitting across the desk. It was a women who was having trouble getting her bowels to move.

Former D said...

For several years, early in the a.m. hours, we would get a 911 call from an elderly woman who only ever wanted to know what time it was. It wasn't every night, but usually at least once a week. We figured she was in a nursing home. I remember well a certain person who shall remain nameless wanted us to take the time to explain to her how she was abusing 911, blah, blah, blah. Guess that's why I'm a former dispatcher.

Anonymous said...

honestly Chief, no one really wonders if the person calling in on their six year old is drunk or high or abusing. Lets play the odds here, 99.99% of these, are an inept parent who doesnt want to try. Is that abuse, probably not. In times of tight budgets, we cant afford an officer to spend 30 minutes telling junior to go to bed and mom to grow up. Just doesnt make sense. How about a sheet of referrals for the call taker to refer to and suggest an approriate agency for people to contact. Or better yet, just tell them NO! You are not Andy and we are not Mayberry, no matter how hard you try, those days are long gone, get with it. make cuts where cuts are necessary, reduce the non police matter calls.

Anonymous said...

If the decision is made at the call center, why not assign a police sgt to oversee the call center and make decisions. A veteran officer is far more qualified to make these decisions than a call taker. And if we're being completely honest, we all know we have way too many street sgts than necessary, break off about six of them and assign them to the call center to supervise. The city needs two sgts on the street per shift, no more. Lets put them to work, for once..please

Tom Casady said...

9:28, did you read this blog post at all? Hundreds of people get told "NO" to all manner of requests that are turned away very week. Ask any past or present dispatcher, call-taker or PSS.

I'm not arguing this point with you because I, too, would like to avoid many of these oddball calls that should not require police involvement. I have a little sympathy for call takers who are trying to do so, with differing levels of skill and experience from a windowless room then you do. I've done time there, and I just don't think it's as easy as you perceive.

We've got plenty of police people around here who've done long assignments at the service desk or in communications, ask them how easy this is, and ask them who will be to blame when we make the wrong call in that .01% case, and it turns out to be something a lot different than it sounded over the phone.

Anyone remember Jennifer Hornickel and Michael Walmsley? Could of been hung up on early in that conversation pretty easily.

Get yourself a long-term part-time job as a call-taker in the Emergency Communications Center, like Karen has, then tell me how simple it is to weed out every stupid dispatch from your electronic foxhole, and how you will develop a training program that teaches all the call takers, dispatchers, and PSS's to do this flawlessly and to your specifications.

Well that's just the best idea I've heard all day. Let's take six uniformed officers off the street, and assign them to another agency of City government. Talk about Andy of Mayberry, you want to revert to the ancient desk sergeant system of Precinct 53. You probably don't remember Car 54 Where are You. ;-)

It is informative to hear your view that we have too many sergeants on the street, though, because all I ever hear is the exact opposite!

Tom Casady said...

By the way, would some of you dispatchers, call takers, PSS's, retired desk sergeants, former Service Desk supervisors, and the like please give us your perspective?

Anonymous said...

First off, I'd like to complain about that "Car 54" song bouncing around in my brain, ever since I saw it mentioned in your previous post. To relieve the agony, I rewrote it just now:

There's a hold up at the Kwik Shop,
Near South's broken out in fights.
There's a traffic jam on West "O"
That's backed up to Arnold Heights.
Kahoa Grade School's short a child,
The City Council's going wild
Car 54, Where Are You?

On a serious note, Dispatcher duty is tough and has a high turnover rate, even in a low-crime, scenic wonderland like Sheridan, Wyoming, where "lost cat" and "dog at large" still make it on the incident list.

Gunther Toody said...

I must admit though that former Capt. Wilhelm did look a little like Ofc. Muldoon.

Anonymous said...

The Muldoon mention forced me to submit the second (and final) rewritten verse:

There's a dope farm down on Dogwood,
Southeast students having fights.
There are drive-bys down on Cooper
Fellow gangstas in their sights.
Shooting buildings full of slugs,
Section 8 moms raising thugs,
Car 54, Where Are You?

heartbrken said...

hey chief...

curious what are the stats of patron crime since other bars have closed...are they lower, higher, the same.. say 6 months. whats your opinion of harsher punishments for violators of publice crimes damaging reputation of downtown businesses. also follow up with a request for an idea for local downtown businesses making a forward progres to decision to help protect they're reputation by able to hire off duty assistance such as restaurans, gas stations and retail businesses...Just wondering I know Lincoln is scard to brak that 300K mark but like other things locally, change is good.