Friday, December 14, 2007

Drugs, alcohol, and gangs

This year, we implemented a new police incident report. The report is entered live into our database, and adds a number of context-sensitive fields that capture data relevant to specific types of events--such as the point of entry in a burglary, or the type of weapon in an assault. Among the new fields, we are now collecting the involvement of drugs, alcohol and gangs in each incident report. This will provide some additional insight into trends in Lincoln. Here are some highlights of the data in 2007 as of this morning:

Drug involvement was indicated in 1232 incident reports; including,
28 robberies
8 rapes
83 burglaries
47 weapons offenses
105 child abuse
201 assaults

Alcohol involvement was indicated in 3657 incident reports; including,
29 robberies
29 rapes
1374 assaults
179 child abuse
352 larcenies
42 weapons offenses
    Gang involvement was indicated in 563 incident reports; including,

    7 robberies
    10 weapons offenses
    11 burglaries
    426 vandalisms
    53 assaults

    These fields are selected based on the best judgement of the assigned officer. We want officers to apply these liberally--if it seems like drugs contributed to or were involved in the event, then select it--these data are for our own use and surveillance, not matters of evidence. I suspect if anything, we're under-reporting the involvement of drugs, alcohol, and gangs, but we'll continue to improve--and remember to check all the fields before mashing the submit button!


    Anonymous said...

    Todays posting brings up another reason why some residential burglaries and home invasions happen - but aren't reported.

    For instance, what if someone busts into your apt when you're home and robs you, taking cash, illegal guns, and illegal drugs. Are you going to call LPD and report it? Probably not, because they don't want an officer bringing their nose (and even worse, a K-9 nose) into their tainted apt. Some residents of the apt might have warrants out, or even be on parole and engaged in activity that would get them busted back in if their PO finds out.

    In short, when criminals victimize other criminals, they generally aren't inclined to ring you folks up and make a report. "So why did you have $3,000 in assorted cash inside a $400/month apt anyway? It kind of smells like meth in here, don't you think? Mind if we take a look around, or should we just wait right here until we get a warrant? By the way, you're a convicted felon, why did you have a gun here in the first place?"

    Anonymous said...


    Maybe I'm simply naive, but of what utility is this information? Is it simply curiosity? I know little about the Department, and while the variances are interesting, I am intrigued by how the this information may be used.

    Anonymous said...

    How many total incident reports were there? I'm interested in knowing, for example, what percentage of total incident reports involved alcohol.

    BTW - what info do you have on gangs? I ask this because my daughter reports that several of her friends (who live in south Lincoln; we live in north) are amazed that we have gangs in Lincoln.

    Tom Casady said...

    You're right. Nonetheless, I'm amazed at the frequency with which people do exactly that. You'd think you'd stow the stash and the bong before you called the police to investigate the burglary, or that a felon wouldn't be calling us to report the theft of a gun he can't legally possess in the first place. But both of these scenarios will happen several times annually! Never underestimate the stupidity of criminals.

    To both guide public policy and to monitor what's happening in the community. When you have no idea about the extent to which gangs, drugs, and alcohol are involved in your crime activity, how do you motivate people to do anything or how do you monitor the change? This is very valuable information for grants, legislation, or other policy-level changes. From my standpoint, the police can have a better understanding of the role these three behaviors are playing in our crime situation and how they are changing over time. If you read this blog reguarly, for example, you'll find lots of references to activities we engage in to impact high-risk drinking and the secondary effects of alcohol abuse. This data begins to demonstrate the "why" behind these police strategies.

    As of this morning, 38,213 incident reports. A little finer analysis would look at the specific incident categories where the correlations are particularly high--the obvious ones are alcohol-related assaults and gang-related graffiti vandalism, but there are many others that would be interesting to dissect (like child abuse and forgery).

    As of today, there are 421 individuals in our database that our officers have identified as involved in a gang. This number has been quite stable over the past 13 years. Although they are distributed almost equally north and south of O Street, the southeast quadrant of the City has only 50 of these 421. So, where you go to school and where you live could have a big impact on your perception of gang identification and activity.

    JoeMerchant24 said...

    I'll say what the chief can't...

    The reason these statistics are valuable is to remind the population that they are not Ward and June Cleaver and this is not Mayberry, RFD (yes, I'm mixing metaphors).

    If people are more aware of the true size of the gang and drug culture, they may be more inclined to do things to avoid becoming victims.

    What things?

    Well, for starters:

    -- Close the garage door.
    -- Lock the bloody door.
    -- Hang up your cell phone and pay attention to your surroundings.
    -- Don't go jogging at 1 a.m. down the dark trail with your headphones blaring
    -- Don't answer the door at 3:25 in the morning.
    -- Don't leave your purse, laptop, cell phone, iPod and the good china in the front seat of your car.
    -- PAY ATTENTION (repeated due to importance).
    -- Many, many more

    Anonymous said...

    I'm curious as to the process through which reports are selected for viewing. There are many reports that show up in the numbers but don't have a description.

    Tom Casady said...

    Okay, this is going to be slightly complex. I'm assuming you are referring to the daily summary on our public home page.

    The summary is composed of two parts: a table of dispatched calls for service, followed by a listing of selected incident reports.

    Not all dispatched calls result in an incident report. Parking calls, alarms, and many disturbances and special services (for instance) have no corresponding incident report. Some dispatched calls result in a report other than an incident report, such as a traffic accident report, or an information report. So there will never be a one-to-one match between dispatched calls and incident reports.

    Incident reports are completed on crimes, missing persons, and certain types of non-criminal events that the officer feels require more documentation than s dispatch record or citation itself.

    Complicating matters, the data in the table of dispatches is updated hourly, so it is near real time. The incident report listing, however, comes from reports processed today by our Records Unit. Some of these reports may be from incidents which were reported on preceding days.

    We are redacting sexual assaults from the icident report listing in order to protect the identity of victims

    The comments for the incident report is a short field that summarizes the report's contents. We are redacting the comments field on child abuse and certain sex crimes.

    Anonymous said...

    Residential home invasion robberies are pretty rare in Lincoln, so it was with some surprise that I noticed not one but two HI Robbery incidents listed from Sunday morning. One just before 2 am, and another about 90 minutes later, but way on the other side of town. It looks like the first "no loss" robbery, from an incident on the same block just a few minutes after the robbery, might (or might not) have been drug-related, because the MJ weight was in the multi-pound range from the summary.

    I mapped both robberies, and I wonder if it was the same perps that boosted both houses, on their way home to an area near the later robbery. I wonder if there were any other similar robbery incidents near or between the two robbery areas this morning.

    alyssa said...

    Speaking of do I find out which 'gang' leaves "D3W" graffiti (or whatever it says) all over buildings downtown?

    Anonymous said...

    I seem to have been in error regarding the second robbery incident, as it was apparently a street robbery, not a home invasion. As an aside, gunpoint street robberies are also quite rare in Lincoln.

    The first robbery, the home invasion, turns out to be more interesting as details emerge (the fishwrap scribblers seem privy to incident details that are unknown to most of us). What I wouldn't give to be able to get access to minimally redacted incident details like that, with exact addresses and names not included of course.

    Tom Casady said...


    As you have correctly surmised, both of these offenses are pretty clearly related to drug dealing. We don't have the full story, of course, but there is plenty in the background.


    Stand by for breaking news on the tagger using the siognature D3M.

    Anonymous said...

    No kidding, with the search warrant and the gun (which didn't make the summaries until today), it's looking to be increasingly multi-faceted. Adding additional angst, it's right in the middle of a very sleek neighborhood, even nicer that the Dogwood Dope Farm was/is. Could this be another rental house with an "as long as I get my rent on time, I don't worry what goes on" landlord?