Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Not a permanent condition

Deena Winter's series The Core, winds down today in the Lincoln Journal Star with some closing observations and the lead editorial. Couldn't have said it better myself, and it makes me to wonder whether my posts about this neighborhood could have contributed to the effort. I hope so. It needs the attention, and it's gratifying to see a little friction being generated. I just hope it turns into some energy.

I wish there were just one more little article in the series to remind people that the condition is not permanent. An individual apartment building car rebound, an entire neighborhood can too. We have many examples of this around Lincoln. Some long-serving police officers will note the difference today between the President and the Ambassador--two apartment buildings in the shadow of the State Capitol that used to be a virtual police substation due to the volume of calls and problems. Today, they are not an issue. Sgt. Don Arp will remember the trouble at a group of apartment buildings near 56th and Holdrege. They're not perfect, but still a far cry from 1994.

Assistant Chief Jim Peschong will recall vividly the major problems we were experiencing along a three-block stretch of W Street in the early 1990's, when that area was under his command. He lit that street up like an airport runway with a little help from the Lincoln Electric System. Those three apartment buildings where his officers were virtually camped out due to the volume of crimes have experienced a grand total of seven minor police incidents in the entire year of 2007. Capt. Joy Citta can take pride in the difference up the street in a single census tract in the Clinton Neighborhood. The work of her Team in collaboration with the Lincoln Action Program made a huge difference with Free to Grow.

And here are some larger neighborhoods that are dramatically different, incredibly better places to live or work today compared to the early 1980's when they were my responsibility as the second shift Northwest-Center Team sergeant: Arnold Heights, Malone, and the N. 27th Street corridor. I am embarrassed to admit that we used to refer to one of these neighborhoods as "the Zone"--as in the Twilight Zone. No more. Today, it's a great place bursting with new development, economic vitality, and green space. Stand in front of Liberty Village at 24th and Vine Street, look south, and think about what was here 20 years ago. Check out the police station, commercial development, and streetscape along N. 27th Street and reflect back on how that stretch looked in 1977 or so. And there are others.

As a newly-minted police officer walking foot-beat 1 in the late summer of 1973, I spent my hours flushing drunks, vagrants and pigeons out of a dilipidated and gritty area of Lincoln that his now one of it's shining stars. The condition is not permanent. Neighborhoods ebb and flow. We can't control it entirely, but we can clear the channel.


Erik said...

Thank you, Chief, for adding another important piece to this story. Lincoln has a lot going for it with numerous organizations such as Neighborworks, Neighborhood Service Exchange and all of the partners that Free to Grow is pleased to count from the schools, to city and county representatives as well as LPD and local businesses. WE have been very grateful for Capt. Citta's work, just as we are for Capt. Kawamoto and the Center Team.
Lincoln is far better off than many cities, despite our own issues.

Anonymous said...

Here's an example of how disorderly that 24th & Vine area was back in those days. Back in 1980-81, a bunch of high school seniors from Southeast Lincoln pitched in and rented a very large old house at about 24th & T (it's been a lot of years ago, so my memory may not serve me precisely). That area was chosen due to the fact that the residents of the area seemed "least likely to call the police" on the nearly-constant keg parties planned for the location, rent was cheap, and there were a couple of handy liquor stores nearby. They were right about the neighborhood's general aversion to dialing LPD, as they never had any significant calls to that almost-disorderly house, at least not that I can recall.

Rumor has it that someone exercised a little fast talking to allow the house to be rented from a motivated landlord by a platoon of minors. There are always a few guys that started shaving at age 12, and that undoubtedly served them well in this endeavor. Rent was paid on time, dozens of people kicked in 10 bucks a month for utilities and rent, provided hand-me-down furniture, and while hard partying was encouraged and went on day after day, any troublemakers were quickly ejected by those that wanted to keep the house off of your radar screen. It lasted about half a year or so, and I've no idea what happened to the house after they all pulled the rip cord and graduated, but I heard it was torn down and a couple of apartment buildings went up on the site.

Anonymous said...

What about the drunk that calls 911 to report drunk driving..wont believe this

Anonymous said...

Today I got a warning ticket for stop sign violation by 1568. I had set for 12 sec or so. So here is the result of that stop, my dash cam is going back in service permenantly. In the event my car had just been stolen I would be glad for the stop, but the fact that I was seen going accross "FAST" and that supports in some odd way a stop violation is beyond me. Keep fishing dudes, but next time its going to and youtube.

Anonymous said...

I wonder, how much grief/cursing out would that "dash cam" have caught 1568 getting from January 31, 5:07 PM?
I'm not a cop. The sense of entitlement, even when breaking the law, is out of control. The prisons are filled with innocent people.