Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Benchmark chiefs' discussion

I am just returning from this year's meeting with the Benchmark City Chiefs. Chief Mark Beckner hosted this year's meeting in Boulder. Eighteen of the 20 cities were represented. As usual it was a great exchange of information and dialogue about our issues of mutual concern.

The much-anticipated discussion of binge drinking by young people and the legal drinking age was cordial and open-minded all around. I found an ally in Chief Dennis Harrison of Fort Collins. Following several alcohol-related deaths, the 2004 alcohol poisoning death of Samantha Spady at a Colorado State University fraternity was a catalyst for change. A broad-based coalition led by the lieutenant governor was formed, and Chief Harrison reports that there is good progress being made in addressing binge drinking with consistent efforts that sound quite similar to our ten year effort with NU Directions (now the Lincoln College Partnership.) There was a lot of discussion of the link between high risk drinking and violent crimes that victimize young people.

We also had a great round table discussion about things we are each doing that are innovative, effective, and potentially of value to other agencies. I highlighted our computer-enhanced roll calls, a training series Capt. Brian Jackson and I have been conducting to help officers prepare for career opportunities, and our efforts to improve fuel mileage through reduced idling.

Richardson, TX has a very intriguing program that really caught my eye. Chief Larry Zacharias calls it "The Richardson Challenge." It is a series of rather non-traditional challenges for new officers to complete during their first year. I want to look into that more.

Yesterday morning, we closed things up with a discussion of budget issues most of us are confronting. With a couple of exceptions, most of these 20 cities are in the same boat with Lincoln: we've grown dependent on sales tax for funding city government, and it has gone flat. We have almost all had varying degrees of pain associated with the current economic conditions.

At dinner Sunday night, I was something of a rookie at my table with a mere 33 years. Dennis Harrison (Ft. Collins, CO), Craig Steckler (Fremont, CA), David Dial (Napierville, IL) , John Douglass (Overland Park, KS), and Phil Cotton (Norman, OK) all had time on me. In this business, the average tenure of chiefs is not very long, but in this group we are all among the original chiefs who formed the Benchmark Chiefs in 1997. We can finish each other's sentences.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you need a Mayor's award.

zapatero said...

Can you give an example of a traditional vs a non traditional challenge?

Anonymous said...

I think I can help.....

A traditional challenge: Meet me by the horse trough, Shoot out at high noon

Non-traditional Challenge: Lets both dress as women and have a singing/dancing contest!

I'm all for the Traditional Challenges..... :)

Tom Casady said...


Everyone's a comedian. ;-)


Here's an example: a "Leadership Challenge". The new officer must interview a community leader for an hour, such as a city council member, about his or her expectations of the police.

I think it's important for police officers to hear the perspective of others. Community leaders don't necessarily see things the same way police officers do. You'd be surprised how concerned they are with things like efficiency, equity, and responsiveness, compared to (for instance) cargo pockets, M-16s, and traffic vests.

Not only is is good for officers to have a better understanding of the perspective of community leaders towards police services, the reverse is also true. A one-on-one conversation with a police officer that touches on his or her needs and concerns is also quite valuable for a community leader.

If nothing else, I think asking community leaders to help mentor and develop new police officers is likely to improve support for the police.

Chief Zacharias mentioned a "volunteer challenge", an "ethics challenge", and others.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this kind of challenge?

Anonymous said...

Find a council member who will produce on the priority of funding more "work the entire case" officers and I will make time for them.

Anonymous said...

Whats the diffrence between a photocopier and the flu? One makes facsimiles, and the other makes sick families. bbrk

Anonymous said...

I'll have to try out that treasure map! On a related note, this parrot would be a failure as part of a pirate crew - because it cracked under interrogation.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping the police went to the parrot's house and found a bunch of pot or some kiddie porn and busted the owner. I guess finding it's owner is kind of a good story too.

Anonymous said...

1. Disney Store Recalls Pirates of the Caribbean Sleeping Bags Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

Anonymous said...

Could you expand on the challenges that you are discussing? Perhaps another blog entry