Thursday, July 2, 2009

Not just law enforcement

If you ever hear me referring to my line of work as law enforcement, or to the Lincoln Police Department as a law enforcement agency, you should correct me. I seldom use those terms. My professional field is policing, and we are a police agency. The two are not the same, irrespective of what you see on TV. Police departments enforce laws, yes, but that’s just part of the picture—and a comparatively small part. We are much more. We are a general service government agency that provides a variety of services aimed at promoting safety and security.

Last year, LPD investigated 1,278 violent crimes--the five offenses the FBI tracks in the Uniform Crime Report: murder and non-negligent homicide, forcible rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. Here’s how that stacked up against some of the other things we investigated last year (click to enlarge):

If you add in the 10,103 property crimes, we handled a total 11,381 Part 1 crimes last year. That’s out of 128,063 total incidents we responded to, or just 8.9%.

Crime is only part of what we do.


Anonymous said...

The rest of them are self-explanatory, but I've always wondered what "Special Services" entails. Is it kind of a general category for everything that doesn't fit in one of the other categories?

Tom Casady said...

8:10 -

"Can't locate adult daughter, no answer on phone for several days...."

"Needs to call Albuquerque General Hospital right away...."

"Locked out of 2006 Honda Odyssey, 3 year-old inside...."

"Several newspapers piled up on front porch, rear door standing open...."

"Night deposit door jammed, can't put bank bag all the way in or pull back out...."

"Parked in lot at 2030 hours returned to find gate down, no way to get out...."

Bill said...

From experience (as a caller) I know that "disturbances" covers a lot of territory. On my street alone we've had a variety of fun incidents.

that's what she said...

When the laws are enforced, the sentences aren't always what one might want.

Anonymous said...

Do a lot of your parking calls arise partly from not having enough off-street parking for the area population? For example, a large, old single-family house that is on a re-zoned parcel allowing it to be busted up into 2, 3, 4, or 5 units. You might have a dozen drivers (with a dozen cars) living in a property with a single driveway that was only designed for 2 or 3 cars at most. Maybe they make one slot for each new unit back in the alley (or maybe not), and all those extra cars go wherever they can fit them. That might be too close to a hydrant or a driveway, or a curb ramp. There just isn't enough room.

Here's a few questions: Who was the pinhead that decided to make a jam-packed slum tenement out of a magnificent old house? Who was the pinhead that decided to change the zoning to allow that to happen? Who was the pinhead that didn't foresee the unintended (but reliably negative) effects of greatly boosting the population density of such areas?

Tom Casady said...


It wasn't a pinhead. It was the decisions of groups and individuals like city planners, planning commission members, city council members, private landowners, and private developers. Planners and elected officials approved zoning changes, building permits, waivers to requirements for off-street parking, other kinds of design and zoning regulations (or failed to implement them); private owners and developers pushed forward projects to remove homes and replace them with slip-ins not built to last for the next 100 years (like the house they replaced) and not supplied with sufficient parking and green space to accommodate the tenants. The results we see today are the product of lots of small decisions decades ago.

I worry that the same thing is occurring today from time to time in certain developments that folks will inevitably regret a generation from now. In this climate, nobody wants to stand in the way of development--even if it's poor development.

Drive around the fringe and look at some of the new development--huge duplexes with nary a brick on them; townhomes that look for all the world like a row of storage garages; subdivisions where street trees, setbacks, lot sizes, off-street parking, street widths, have all been minimized--then picture what it will be like in 2049.

Some will be fine. It's not just a matter of density. There are apartments in Chicago and row houses in San Francisco that are far more valuable than my single family home on a third acre. Others, however, appear to have few redeeming qualities that will assure their long-term viability as good places to live.

Does it have a front porch, or is the front of the place nothing but a garage? Is there a credible yard, or a nearby community space? Is that cement fiber siding, or the cheapest vinyl on the market? When the drywall is dinged, the shingles curl up, the kitchen cabinet doors fall off, and the carpet wears through, are the bones strong enough that it's a good candidate for an update?

We have some excellent low and low-moderate income housing stock in Lincoln that has survived the test of time. I see a development like Liberty Village at 22nd and Vine, and I think that will stand the test. I look at the houses Habitat for Humanity builds in Lincoln, and I can picture these simple, well-built homes lasting several generations. In other locations, though, my crystal ball predicts a gloomy future.

Anonymous said...


I appreciate you and your officers. Now, a question...isn't the word "forcible" in front of rape reduntant?


Steve said...

Maybe, if people weren't so accustomed to driving everywhere they go and walked that half a block to the convenience store, they would also be satisfied with parking perhaps a hundred, or two hundred feet from their front door instead of pulling in their drive with a third vehicle that hangs out into the street and across the sidewalk. Or, they park right up to a stop sign or hydrant. Or, they just pull up in their front yard and make a mudhole out of it. At least that way they're not hurting anyone besides the adjacent property owners when the area goes to hell and values drop.

As long as we're on the subject, Chief, how does the city respond in regard to a federal law preventing people from blocking access to mail boxes? Can LPD ticket a vehicle that is too close to a mail box for the carrier to pull up and deliver mail? That alone would almost eliminate off street parking in many neighborhoods.

Tom Casady said...

1:06 -

FBI's language. You'll find the definition in the UCR handbook beginning on page 19. The most common example of a non-forcible rape would be consentual sexual intercourse between a person 19 years of age or older and a person 15 years of age or younger. In Nebraska, this is a first degree sexual assault--same offense as forcible rape. This crime often goes by the name "stautory rape" in common parlance.


I guess you must call the FBI on that Federal offense. ;-)

Fortunately, most vehicles that would block a mailbox would also be violating Municipal Ordinance 10.32.110, which prohibits parking within five feet of the curb cut for a driveway. You need not call the Feds for that one.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I should have said a chronological unintentional conspiracy of multiple semi-pinheads.

Developments that look like storage garages with narrow streets and little green space? Like this one?

Anonymous said...

So many people think doing anything to a mailbox is a Federal offense. If someone parks in front of a mailbox the mail carrier just doesn't deliver the mail.
If the box is vandalized, it's a vandalism.

Anonymous said...

My favorite redundancy, and it's used a lot more by the media, I believe, is "dead body". Maybe I'm weird, but when I hear a body has been found, I just kinda assume it's dead.

Tom Casady said...


"chronological unintentional conspiracy of multiple semi-pinheads"

...and they accuse be of being obtuse! Well done. Nice link! Yes, that is a good example. How does this development hold up in 2049? To me, this one has a lot more potential to still be a nice place to live.

Anonymous said...

How does that block of U St. stay nearly incident-free, while situated in an incident-heavy area? Is it all owner-occupied, or is it due to well-managed tenant screening? Don't let problem tenants take root in the first place, and you avoid a lot of problems.

Problems? What kind of problems?

Here's what happens when an absentee landlord from three states away doesn't check out their prospective tenant's criminal history.

Back to duplexes. How about an example of what a duplex should look like. Go here, and click on the pics of the 1935 and 1937 Tudor Revival duplexes. Not opulant, but very homey and inviting. Those look like they're built to last at least a century, and are so attractive that you'd want to live in them if you'd just transferred there and were looking for a rental place to hang your hat. They'll probably still look just as good in 2049. Those are brick all the way around, by the way, not just the street-side - unlike a lot of junk they build lately, even in the high-price ranges.

ARRRRG!!!! said...

I like this one best.

Ken said...

You prove your point well, Tom. From now on I will use the term "policing" when I refer to LPD. Very interesting stats. Thanks. Ken H.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget burglary! Some residential burglaries, like A9-063858, sort of catch the eye, due to the summary description: safe, cash, medications, and from an apartment in that area. It's possible that someone living in apartment there regularly has enough cash on hand to have a safe in which to securely store it, but it sort of beggars belief, if you see what I mean. It makes me wonder what stolen items weren't reported to LPD.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Chief. I had to comment, but you obviously do not know the construction methods of the Liberty Village and the likes.

I would put any amount of money these homes are not standing or are near worthless in 60 years.

2x4 interior walls on 24" center and single headers are not the mark of a craftsman. These homes were built as cheaply and as close with all the wavers they could get.

Take a walk around them - no yard and you can spit into your neighbor's window. In 30 years it will be the blight of the area.

And so close to Vine that any further expansion of Vine will require the first row is removed!

Tom Casady said...


I'll take your word, it's not my area of expertise. From the outside, at least, these are much more attractive than the all-vinyl-nothing-but-garage duplexes. Century-old row houses are still premium properties in some U.S. cities--I suppose it has everything to do with the "bones." Will it be worth rehabbing when the plumbing is worn out? Can you do "affordable" and still achieve "worthy of reahabilitating in 50 years?"

Anonymous said...

I believe the Liberty Village was a good theory and concept - but poorly implemented.

The location - close to university and the new park with water sprays - makes them attractive BUT ask a realtor or appraisor about the surrounding area, small lot size, or proximity of Vine street and it takes a serious hit to the market value.

Conversely, you could put the nicest Victorian (or pick your favorite style) home on 11th and E and it will never retain value over time (read multiple decades) if surrounding homes/properties and "social issues" are not dealt with.

Lincoln's over-built recent history has a lot to do with the deterioration of older neighborhoods. Cheaper, newer homes are more attractive than maintenance intensive older homes.

I am hoping the current economic environment weeds out both the less qualified home owner and absentee landlords. The problem doesn't lie in the regulations, but those who twist them without understanding or caring about the consequenses.

Parking, green space, parks, population density, etc can all be cured with the right financial and personal monivating factors.