Friday, December 26, 2008

Bag man

Since the Casady family Christmas celebration is on Christmas Eve, I always work on Christmas Day. It let's someone else take the day off, and it's a tradition for me that is always interesting. I'll have to recap the days events later.

The profane, however, is moderated by the uplifting. Once again this year, two groups of citizens I am acquainted with endowed me with some cash to distribute on Christmas Day. Officers Chris Fields and Lane Johnson gave me a good tip. They had encountered a young woman in crisis on Christmas Eve. She has had a string of recent trouble that had brought her near a breaking point: divorce, unpaid child support, the recent loss of her job, and a traffic crash (not her fault) that destroyed her minivan. She is raising three young children alone in half of a Spartan duplex.

Just like last year, as the shift wore on, I couldn't find her at home. There was a Christmas tree lit in the window, though, so I suspected she would be back eventually. Around 8:30 PM, I left an address where officers were searching for a suicidal man, and made another pass on my way to the station. The lights were on, and I knocked on the door. "Come in," she called, obviously expecting a guest other than the chief of police. After introductions, I explained my mission, handed her $300 in two gift cards, and received the hug that actually belongs to others who merely sought my help as the bag man.

I had obviously interrupted bath time for the kids after a long day. They were all peering out the window as I remounted my sleigh. I treated them to a blue and red light show as I drove away. I'm sure that little excitement delayed bedtime a few minutes.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

You'll probably catch some flak from ideological compadres of "Mr. Gum", errantly accusing you of pinning a rose on yourself with today's post.

Speaking of the spirit of giving and supporting your local police, I'm curious about your unit cost for the digital cameras that your patrol Officers use for photographing tire tracks, shoe-prints, etc. I ask, because I suspect that you might have fewer cameras than you have Officers on patrol at times.

Digicams might not be a "sexy" piece of gear like helicopters, thermal imagers, dogs, rifles, body armor, and tasers, but it's probably nice to have one right there in your cruiser when (for example) the shoe-prints in the snow are melting away...

Anonymous said...

What your police force does year round is amazing. And I mean that. Every encounter I have had with the Police has been fair, informative, and friendly. I have been to other cities that are about the same size as Lincoln. The officers in some of those cities have the God Complex and aren't very nice, even to law abiding citizens. The officers here go out of their way to do more than protect, serve, and defend. You should be proud that you all are part of a great police department.

Mary said...

As St. Francis said "It is in giving that we receive." What a great post.

Tom Casady said...

7:48-

We've issued everyone a point and shoot 35 mm for years, and we have a pretty good selection of high-end digital SLRs for work that requires more sophistication. We're in the process of equipping everyone with a digital Canon, replacing all the remaining film cameras. It's been a bit of a slow-go finishing the jump to digital, but we'll have that completed in the next few months.

Anonymous said...

Most of the digital cameras in use are personally owned, at least that is the case with the one I have used for the last several years, and the group of Officers I work with.

Anonymous said...

TO:December 26, 2008 1:44 PM
Using the equipment you bring from home is not loyalty, devotion or commitment. Bringing equipment from home to use on a Government job is just plain stupid. What do you think would happen if you took a camera home to use to snap some photographs of the kids at christmas time? You would be fired. Unless, of course, you are a manager and you do not have anybody looking over you. I know for a fact the City and County have a policy. You may NOT use the equipment for non related work activities. Even though the Lancaster County Emergency Services vehicle is seen all over Lincoln, and the driver is smoking a cigarette, he is permitted to use the vehicle,for trips to the store ect, as it is furnished by the county for his own use. Not sure about the smoking though. I realize you mean well, and it makes the job easy for you. But this is just plain stupid. Let the cards fall where they may, and pressure the employer to buy the cameras for you.
"We just do not have the money in the budget"
Horse phooey.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad all the new recruits are getting digitals... how about giving them to the veteran Ofc's who are out there taking calls and using the same junk 35mm we have had for 5+ years....

Anonymous said...

To 1210
I guess your post is confusing to me. What are you trying to compare with personally owned equipment and gov't issued equipment. I don't think the officer suggested he/she is using assigned equipment for personal use and since there is no policy against using a personal camera for department use it seems to be unrelated. As a matter of fact, I don't think you probably realize how much personal equipment we use to make us more proficient at our jobs.

I know I have purchased improved flashlights for my duties on third shift. Is it necessary? No, probably not, but the advantages of a tactical light or brighter light may be just the edge needed some night. Do I know that my equipment may be broken or lost during my shift? Yes. I don't think that makes me, or my actions, stupid.

Hopefully an officer never has to be involved in a shooting, but it does happen. During one of those events if an officer has to rely on a back-up weapon, which is personally owned, we all realize it may be part of our property department for a long time. Again, I don't think it is stupid, or ill advised, but more of an insurance policy.

It would be nice to be able to "pressure" the agency into buying every officer whatever additional equipment we feel we need but that is just not reality. Budgets are an issue and as officer, of your department, we realize the crunch. That doesn't mean it isn't frustrating but I think we are a successful department with the equipment we are, or are not, provided.

As long as there is law enforcement and improvements in equipment there will be purchases for upgrades. It is just part of our attempts to help serve our communities in the best way we can.

Tom Casady said...

8:03-

Working on it....

Tom Casady said...

3:29-

My briefcase, trunk, and desk are full of personally owned equipment I acquired or assembeled for exactly the same reason. It wasn't that the Department didn't provide it, it's just that I prefered to use by own Olympus 35MM bodies, lenses, flashes, and accessories (for example). I've bought more flashlights over the years than I can remember--even though the department issues a pretty nice Streamlight Stinger. Overall, I think any reasonable officer (particularly one with experience in another department) would have to agree that LPD provides pretty nice gear.

The delay in making the jump to digital evidence has been the result of the big dollars involved in the back-end software and servers necessary to do it right--not the front-end camera. The same thing is true of digital transcription. If it was as simple as buying a $50 recorder, we would have done that several years ago. You've got to be able to input, archive, preserve, serve, and transcribe those .dss files.

Anonymous said...

12:10, by your "standard", isn't every LPD Officer stupid, since the Dept. doesn't issue footwear, and they don't go barefoot? I think not. I've never been in law enforcement, but in the USMC, they didn't provide us with sorbothane insoles for our rock-hard-sole boots (keep in mind that this was some years ago), nor gore-tex liners for our leather gloves. Those are just two examples of gear upgrades that many of us did on our own. Nevertheless, I purchased and used my own, but I guess that was "stupid" in your eyes.

Might I inquire as to exactly what uniformed, sworn, and armed government job you held that enabled this insight into gear issues?

Phillyun said...

Here are a couple of thoughts that I'll throw out there for discussion:

Using personal stuff for work happens. My employer reminds me that there is NO Insurance if its broken/stolen/lost. I have an entire bookshelf full. I have software. My glasses aren't work-issued either, but imagine that, I use them for my job. I think those that use personal items at work are simply doing the best job they can do with the tools/resources they have available.

As for the forensic side, one might (try to) argue that things were tweaked if the camera was taken home and a few (personal pics) were removed. Who's to say other photos weren't photo-shopped?
Film had those same issues though (although its less likely to have some missing from the middle of the strip)

There's the question of the integrity of the data on the memory card used. Even after deleting data, the data is physically there. (Most) cards use wear-leveling, which keeps the card from burning out as fast (go look it up), but if you have the right equipment, data can be retrieved from those cards.

What is the risk of crime photos being leaked via ebay, etc when the camera is finally sold? Probably not a very high risk as shoe prints w/o the context isn't very useful, but some info is not what you want "out" in the public view.