Monday, September 22, 2008

In the pulpit, on the bus

Late last fall, I was asked to speak to a group of Lincoln clergy on retreat at Camp Carol Joy Holling near Ashland, Nebraska. The camp has a gorgeous new retreat center that is as nice as any hotel in the State. Dr. Susan Gourley, Lincoln's Superintendent of Schools, and I had both been asked to address the group about some of the unmet needs we see in Lincoln. This wasn't long after my dad's death, and my experiences with Officer Cass Briggs on Veteran's Day, so I was feeling pretty sentimental and had a lot of things on my mind to tell them about.

I must have done okay, because a year's worth of invitations to speak to church groups hither and yon has followed, including each of the past two weeks. Apparently when you do a decent job speaking to a group of a few dozen people who have to come up with material weekly, they're not shy about drawing on the available resources! That's not a complaint, by the way. Being a spokesperson in the community for the police department is an important part of my job, and raising awareness about the things that occur in our community most people don't know about is a key reason I started this blog. I try to accept invitations to groups of all kinds whenever I can.

A week ago Sunday, I was scheduled to speak in northeast Lincoln at St. Andrews Lutheran Church after the service. The twist, though, was that the pastor asked me to actually take the members to see some of the things he'd heard me talk about. When I learned that this was to be two bus loads from the congregation, I had to get some help. I had those arrangements made, but a family emergency for my co-host meant that the Northeast Team's Sgt. Randy Clark had to be pressed into service at the 11th hour as the tour guide on one of the busses.

After a short talk at the church, we loaded up to huge over-the-road coaches. Randy had pre-selected a route for his group, based in part on his knowledge gleaned as the Northeast Team's representative on the City's Problem Resolution Team. My wife, Tonja, who goes with me to a lot of speaking engagements (she wouldn't see me much if she didn't) decided she'd rather go on Sgt. Clark's bus than mine because she had already seen my route. She and I had scoped that out on Saturday. It takes a little reconnoitering to figure out where you can get a bus in and out.

So, a couple of jaded cops took about 80 or 90 nice folks on a short jaunt to a few places in the City where life is harder and conditions harsher than they are used to. I hope some of them are motivated to participate (or continue to participate) in things like Teammates, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Boys and Girls Club, City Impact, the LPS/Food Bank Backpack Program, Lincoln's Paint-a-thon, the Center for People in Need, and Habitat for Humanity (to name just a few) as a result. There's a lot of mission to be performed in our own back yard, a point I tried to make on the return trip by taking my group by a house just a few blocks from their suburban church where someone could use a helping hand. People in Lincoln are driving by obvious needs right under their noses all the time. I hope some of these citizens see their own City with new eyes.

Tonja, by the way, reports that Randy's tour was much better than mine. He had color handouts with maps. Not only that, it turns out he was confirmed and married at this same church. That's an unfair advantage! Thanks for the help and the great job, Sgt. Clark.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"911, whats your emergency?
"The neighbor has a couch on the porch!

ARRRRG!!!! said...

Did you make it by the pirate soup kitchen?

Anonymous said...


Is that Klem in the middle??

Sherkayh said...

Chief, I have a question totally unrelated to your post. With the upcoming football game being a night game - and apparently the following game also at night, the parking lots around the stadium will be plenty full of "good cheer" that often turns to mischief. Why has LPD put a stop to these lots hiring off-duty officers to help with security? Now that there is only some guy in a orange vest, the lots are getting more unruly and less enjoyable for those of us who go there to enjoy the festivities with friends and family.

Anonymous said...

Chief, I need help with my hide a bed that's on my front porch,where do I sleep on those hot summer nights, with utilities!!!!

Zen said...

The PD isn't enforcing the couch ordinance-don't you people read? Like they don't have enough to do so let's make them put up with asinine comments about something they have no authority over. Nice.

Tom Casady said...


Sorry for the delay in responding. I was out of town moderating comments on my cell phone, and must have missed this.

Some of these lots have become virtual bars, and I don't allow officers to work at bars. It puts us in an untenable ethical position when so many violations of the law are occurring under the watchful eye of police officers who are unable to do anything very effective about them, and lucky to avoid creating mayhem.

The lost should hire security, and plenty of it, and should evict--permanently--anyone who violates the rules: minors drinking, adults who hand beers to minors, people who get drunk and obnoxious, public urinators, and so forth.