Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Record for arrests

The 2007 arrest data has been compiled, and it was a record year. There were 2,687 felony arrests, and 26,717 misdemeanor arrests. Actually, those are arrest charges, not individuals. Some arrests are for more than one charge (assault & vandalism, for example), and some individuals are...gifted: they manage to get arrested more than once in the same year.

Both of these numbers are high water marks for LPD, and represent a very large volume for a department of 317 sworn personnel and a city of 241,000. As in the past, I would challenge anyone to find a similarly-sized department that approaches these numbers. I can't account for the 38.8% increase in arrests during the past decade--a period of time during which crime has decreased. The increase in the number of arrests more than doubles population growth. I blogged about this phenomenon before, so rather than getting redundant, I'll just update the chart from last July's post (click the chart to enlarge).

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is there any way to break out how many individuals are involved?

Anonymous said...

One thing I've noticed is that many arrested for violent felonies also have previous violent felony arrests that were plea-bargained away or reduced to a misdemeanor charge, leaving them on the street or returning them to the street sooner than one would expect. Could this account for some of the arrest frequency of many gifted individuals? I've also noticed that some re-offend when they are still awaiting the disposition of other cases, which doesn't seem a wise way to influence the court.

I won't get started on multiple violent felony convictions that are, for some reason, punished with sentences to be served CC, rather than CS.

-JS- said...

Chief,

Perhaps you have already covered this in a previous post but to recap, what do the numbers look like for (aggravated) assaults over the same time period?

Anonymous said...

Could this account for some of the arrest frequency of many gifted individuals?

What does the writer say?
I do not understand "GIFTED"

Tom Casady said...

8:38

Yes, but I just can't divert the attention of my information technology staff right at the moment. I think if you divided by two, you'd be pretty close to the number of individuals.

8:51

Absolutely. A small number of criminals is responsible for a disproportionate number of crimes. There's good research on that. Welcome to our frustration!

-js-
Aggravated assault from 1991 to present has bounced around quite a bit between a low of 855 and a high of 1,084. If you chart it in Excel, and add a trendline to the data series, it's flat as a board. Roll your own data, cut and paste into Excel, and give it a try, if you're inclined.

10:48

Gifted: they get arrested more often than most. I'm being facetious.

Anonymous said...

With these numbers, and your past posts comparing LPD staffing to othr cities its size, how do the powers that be justify not declaring it a state of emergency and do, or offer whatever it takes to get the dept the staffing it needs. What gives?

Tom Casady said...

I don't think that elected officials sense that crime is such a major issue that they need to worry very much about it, and on the rare occasion they do, it's not enough to cause them to raise taxes needed to support a more reasonably-sized police department for a city nearing a quarter million.

Lincoln's crime rate (especially for headline-grabbers like homicide and holdups) is well below the average for cities of this size, and I think our elected officials just don't hear enough angst about it on the campaign trail. You want to get a turnout at the public hearing, just mention cutting a bus route!

One of the things lots of people fail to understand is that crime is only a small part of what we do. The missing persons, mental health emergencies, traffic accidents, disturbance complaints, child abuse/neglect, and a myriad of other kinds of services consume far more of our resources than FBI Part I crimes that the comparative stats are all based upon.

Bottom dollar is that citizens have to decide what they want from their municipal government, and what they are willing to pay to support those services.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if more cell space being built might remove some of the pressure on prosecutors, judges and parole boards to early-release/parole or down-charge/under-sentence these proven career thugs.

For instance, as a timely item, I'd bet the farm that the main suspect in these recent predatory exploits has a hefty juvie record, and didn't skip a beat as he entered adulthood. It'll be fascinating to look into it after you catch him (which you will, since he probably lives in the area).

Anonymous said...

I can explain as to the reason why the number of arrests have drastically increased while crime has decreased. LPD, over the past decade has put a tremendous amount of pressure on it's officers to make more arrests. While quotas are not legal and are not formally in place at LPD. An officer is pressured not to fall below its team average. One way to at least maintain a high arrest average is to pound the number of charges on one person. For instance, if an officer observes someone drinking in public, throws the can in the bushes, and then pees in the alley. This poor sucker will have an open container violation, consuming in public, littering, and urinating in public. It makes for small work for the officer, but the poor dumb-ass gets pounded. A single charge would send the same message to the person but would fail to give the officer a boost in his numbers for the month. The same goes for traffic tickets. Just compare the traffic tickets written in Omaha Vs. Lincoln. There is little pressure on officers in Omaha to write tickets so the numbers are way lower than in Lincoln, a city half the size of Omaha. Another reason for the higher numbers is this. Simply put, an officer makes more dinero when he arrests more people. That's right, write more tickets, list all the charges you can, and the chances of going to court, at over time pay, increases greatly. It's like saying a cop gets commission. Sort of dirty isn't it? Oh sure over the years there have been small attempts to limit court OT, but just compare what a cop assigned to the traffic unit makes, and compare him to what a captain makes, you will see compareable numbers. That is why a spot on the traffic unit is so coveted.

JT said...

I thought numbers would match up to population increases, but they really don't. I guess maybe lincoln is finally becoming a "big" city and graduating to new issues.

Tom Casady said...

Anonymous 4:28--

In the hypothetical situation you describe, a single ticket and single charge does the job, as you said. To write four charges in such a circumstance is a ridiculous exercise by someone who has misplaced their priorities, or who intentionally perverts the message to do the right thing. While there are certainly cases where mulitple counts arise from a single arrest, and a valid purpose is served by making the arrest for more than one count, your's is a classic case of silliness--and it doesn't result in anyone earning more overtime for court.

Just who, exactly, puts such pressure on officers to issue multiple count citations which are so clearly overkill? Give me the name, I'll straighten him or her out. No doubt it will end up being the elusive "they." Well, I'm "they," and I have talked myself hoarse with this message, in person, in hearings, in meetings, in training, in speeches, and in writing.

You have to really, really, distinguish yourself as incredibly unmotivated to be in hot water over not doing enough around here. And if you think that the promotions have been going to the people who engage in such behavior, you are sorely mistaken. Virtually all chronic problems I have to deal with involving officers' work performance are the result of quality of work. I don't know how many times I have to repeat that, but for the umpteenth time, here it is:

Focus on quality
This job is about quality much more than quantity—and sometimes the two do not go hand in hand. A handful of warnings and a couple officials for red light violations at an intersection with an accident problem are worth a lot more than a boatload of seven-over speeding tickets on Homestead Expressway. Recovering a stolen bike a few blocks away is good work. Getting an admission from a guy who’s been stalking his ex-wife is good work. Tracking down the person who bought the beer for the minors at the party is good work. And an artful interview of a suspect leading to a multiple clearance is good work—not handling more dispatches than anyone else on the squad. If the only fun in this job is driving fast, running on hot calls, and leaving the details behind in your wake, deliver Pizza. Otherwise, keep your focus on quality. Do not confuse doing more than your peers with being a better police officer.

Tom Casady said...

Anonymous:

That's a pretty serious three- letter allegation. I'm not posting your comment, though, because I do not allow my blog to become an internal dart board, unless I am the target (in which case I may or may not, depending on the quality and relevance of the comment). I appreciate your courage in anonymously providing these details, though. At least that's something that I can look into.

I believe that this has already been revised sufficiently that I am satisfied no such quota exists, but I will review it again to make certain. Quotas are illegal, and won't be tolerated.

As for you being passed by for a training opportunity, I think it is perfectly appropriate for supervisors to take into account the demonstrated initiative and motivation of personnel when making many such decisions.

Even if what you describe is as you describe it, I fail to see how that could be twisted into an inducement that would cause someone to pile charges upon a urinating in public ticket--at least for any right-thinking officer.

We have a labor management committee and a grievance procedure, you may appear at the former anytime you wish, and file the later if you feel your complaint has not been redressed. We also have an Internal Affairs process and a Citizen Police Advisory Board. Nothing prevents an officer from making a complaint to either.

I continue to stand by my statement: you have to really, really distinguish yourself around here to get in hot water over failing to do enough. Here's something that hasn't changed in 30 years: everyone knows who's working and who's slacking.

Anonymous said...

show me the money,
if traffic is such a coveted spot why do only 6-10 people put in for it a year. also unless they start having court on second or third shirt or on the weekend there is no court time to be had. Traffic officers also are forced off on holidays to help the budget. Traffic officers are usually the lowest paid because they dont get the overtime. c staley

Anonymous said...

Chief,

Anonymous 4:28 said "just compare what a cop assigned to the traffic unit makes, and compare him to what a captain makes, you will see compareable numbers. That is why a spot on the traffic unit is so coveted."
I thought the traffic unit was generally at work M-F how does that translate into OT? Wouldn't that actually mean less OT? Seems pretty simple maybe 4:28 isn't really an employee?

Not in the traffic unit. said...

Hey anon 4:28. The traffic unit works days, court is during the day. They end up going to court while they work so I imagine they get very little if any court OT.

Officers charge people with the violation(s) they have committed. The DA usually ends up throwing out all but one of the charges of a multiple charge offense to get a coveted guilty plea.

JH said...

Chief....
Thanks for a place we are allowed and encouraged to place our comments and concerns. Not many officials have the spine to be able to do this. I enjoy reading things from your side of the coin when it comes to some of these issues instead of a general blanket comment that sometimes the press has to have. Thanks for some honesty and the extra time (you sacrifice) for some of the not so encouraging feedback that is left on here... I think that over the years this department has grown it has taken on these new and different issues the best that it could. There is always another side to the story and you usually provide a good way to look at both.
Thanks for the time you put into this.

JH

Tom Casady said...

JH:

Thanks. This takes a lot of work, and I try to do most all of it (expect for occasional responses to comments) during my hours away from the office. It's been well over 200 pages of writing, not counting anything in the comments!

The Labor-Management Committee is probably the better place to discuss these internal issues, as the Chief's Corner is a public blog where the great majority of the readers have limited background information about internal issues and the subtexts that go along with some of these posts about them.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Chief, I'm sorry you and some of the other responders don't believe what anonymous Jan 15, 4:28 said. But believe me, an officer in your dept, it's all true. I recall being trained in the academy, when you stop a vehicle for a traffic violation, and if that vehicle failed to use it's turn signal to pull over to the curb, you CAN write him or her for "fail to signal".

Tom Casady said...

5:51-

It's not necessarily that I don't believe that someone has expressed that attitude--even in training, it's just that I find it difficult to believe that anyone would buy into that, or that anyone in a supervisory or managerial position encourages pointless piling on.

A multiple-count citation for speeding and no seat belt? Fine. No insurance? Great. Improper registration? Absolutely. Driving while suspended? Without any doubt whatsoever. But failure to signal the lane change to pull over to the curb? Give me a break! That's just flat ridiculous, even if it is technically a law violation. It certainly won't earn anyone any overtime, but it will definitely earn you a reputation, and not the type of reputation that will serve you well or make anyone with half a brain regard you as a productive and motivated officer.

Reread "focus on quality" from my comment 12 hours ago. That's what earns you a reputation. If someone is encouraging you to add a nitpicking count seven to the speeding ticket, he or she needs to get a grip on the real purpose of our work. The purpose of traffic law enforcement is to reduce traffic collisions, protect life and property, and ensure the orderly movement of traffic--not to pad the "report card" of some overzealous officer who is incapable of understanding the nuances and subtlety of our craft, and thus wrongly perverts legitimate encouragement to devote an honest effort to his or her job into this kind of behavior.

Cop Star said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Remember when they floated a bond issue to fund the upgrade of your communications system? I think before that, even your tactical and narcotics radio traffic was broadcast in the clear (!), wasn't it? It's probably the only bond issue that I ever voted FOR.

If you ran an LPD budget-boosting bond issue up the pole, I'd vote for it, and probably donate something to a campaign supporting it. Many elected officials are too busy trying to commit every spare dime redundantly duplicating the Qwest center only 50 miles away from the current one, and have no time for other concerns...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tom Casady said...

3:48 AM

Give me a break, please. I have a life, it was a long day, and I missed one of this guys 10 or so moronic posts. Thought I'd hit them all, but obviously had not, as I learned when I cracked open this morning.

He's gone now. My good buddy's been a regular correspondant, both before and after I started blogging last April. It just frosts him to no end when I delete his comments, so his whole day will be ruined.

Tom Casady said...

Wow, he was even more frosted than I expected!

I hate to have to do this, but I've moderated out all the comments from my little buddy, and all of the responses thereto from others.

The whole thread is completely off topic, I'd never open up a thread on such a case.