Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I just read the newspaper, where a citizen rips LPD for waking her at 2:30 AM on December 25th to tell her to move the car parked on a snow emergency route. Wasn't really any need for us to do that, other than to give her and her husband the opportunity to avoid a hefty $50 ticket and an even heftier tow fee.
They had no choice other than to leave her daughter's car on the street, and take her home. How rude of us to now suggest that they get it off the street or it would be towed!
I looked up the address on the County Assessor's website. It's not far from my home, and the photo looks a lot like my place. There is a double garage, and a double wide driveway. You could park SIX vehicles off the street. It appears to have been purchased in 2003, and the author of the letter acknowledges knowing that it is a bus route, despite pleading that the bus isn't running today.
I think it was a good idea for this couple to fire up the SUV and take their daughter home in the blizzard, but is it really too much to expect that they would think to move her car off the snow emergency route and into the driveway, and should they really fault the police for giving them the opportunity to take care of it pronto rather than face a tow? Do they think that the plow operator and the police officer, working outdoors on Christmas morning are having a Merry Time annoying people for no good reason?
In fairness, maybe her husband was out of town, and she was alone. Maybe he has the SUV, or it's in the shop, maybe there wasn't another adult in the household who could stay with the little kids while she handled the car. I don't know. But the officer's offer was just that: if you can move it, we won't need to tow it. Lots and lots of people have been afforded that opportunity during the snow emergency, because it's easier for us, and cheaper for them.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
We have been writing hundreds of parking tickets for snow emergency violations and 24 hour parking, and towing cars left and right. I guess we just don’t have enough of these big snow events for some people to sit up and pay attention to the parking bans. The residential ban violations are particularly troublesome. These require vehicles to be parked only on the side of the street with either even or odd addresses, based on which is specified on a particular day.
In some areas of Lincoln, a snow emergency parking ban violation can prevent the plow from even getting down the center of the street, because there just isn’t enough space. Even if the plow can pass, the offending vehicle is plowed in, and the owner has a big dig on his hands to get it out. When he eventually does, he shall find a fat parking ticket, but the rest of the neighborhood will have to put up with the burial mound all winter long.
Last week I had a meeting with Mayor Beutler, who was concerned by the apparent lack of compliance with the residential parking ban following our first big snow two weeks ago. I told him that there just didn’t seem to be enough fear of enforcement, even though we had issued over 1,100 tickets. I also explained that there are more people than you might realize who do not read the paper, listen to news radio, or watch the nightly newscasts on television. Moreover, in a city of a quarter million, you will always have a few thousand people who at any given time are drunk, high, or just so disorganized that they can’t figure out what day of the week it is, much less comprehend concepts like even and odd, north and east. This Incident Report (lightly edited to protect the identity) is pretty indicative of the problem:
Two big December snowstorms have been a test of our parking enforcement energy, and I think we rose to the challenge. It was a commendable effort by our officers. I don’t have the exact numbers from the Christmas storm yet, but there were stacks of tickets issued, and nearly 80 vehicles towed by the skinny staff that worked over the holiday weekend. With the real parking pros back on duty beginning today (that’s the Public Service Officers), the numbers are sure to take a steep climb. When we have our next major snowfall, I hope the vigorous enforcement causes the inattentive and unmotivated to move their cars from the banned locations, because it’s easier on everyone.
And before anyone starts chewing this bone, let us refresh: the City retains an $8 fee on parking tickets to offset a portion of the cost of enforcement (it certainly doesn't pay the entire cost), the remainder--the fine--all goes to the public school district, a provision in Nebraska's Constitution. Life would be much easier, and the cost to the City much less, if no tickets were necessary whatsoever. Anyone who thinks this is fun and profitable has rocks in their head.
Monday, December 28, 2009
A couple Fridays ago, I attended the annual Christmas party of a local philanthropic organization, the Sowers Club. Every year, the Sowers Club donates toys to Santa Cop. This year, they trimmed the Christmas tree in the ballroom with cash. At the end of the night’s festivities, the Sower’s plucked the tree, and presented me with a hefty wad. After nervously guarding the haul over the weekend, I handed Officer Cass Briggs (who coordinates Santa Cop) an envelope containing $2,300 to beef up the shopping fund!
A second opportunity arose on Christmas day. I had not seen the letter Officer Steve Standley received from a woman recovering from her drug problems until Christmas Eve. That morning, a fortunate accident occurred. I received a nice email from a citizen complimenting Officer Chassidy Jackson. As luck would have it, I got it on my smartphone right at the moment I was standing next to her in the lineup room at headquarters. Her Sergeant, Ed Sheridan, was there, too, so I just read it out loud, as I forwarded a copy to him for Chassidy’s personnel file.
Afterwards, Sgt. Sheridan and I were getting a little mushy about the good things we get to do as police officers, when he asked me if I had seen the letter Steve Standley received. He had a copy, and shared it with me. I thought the letter was particularly heart felt and moving, as this woman described how she was working to overcome her drug problems and get her life back on track. What better on Christmas then to support someone’s efforts in search of redemption?
She told Steve in her letter that she was going to school and working two jobs. That means that money must be a little tight, so after the last second shift lineup on Christmas, I drove over to her home, and dropped off an envelope full of cash and a stack of gift cards for a local grocery store. The cash was a gift from the employees of a small business here in Lincoln, that forgoes a company Christmas party, and instead asks me to serve as their elf. The gift cards came from a women’s group at my church that requested my services as their bag man.
It was the middle of a Nebraska blizzard, but I had a big 4WD police patrol unit to make the delivery. I called her from down the street, thinking it might be a little disconcerting to hear an unannounced knock at the door under the circumstances. I could sense just a little confusion in her voice as I introduced myself and explained my purpose. A few minutes later I trudged through the knee deep snow and navigated a 4-foot drift near her front door. Hugs, thanks, and tears ensued, and I had to remind her, as I sprung to my sleigh, that I was just the heavily armed delivery man.
I felt honored to help all these donors make these splendid gifts.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
One day about five years later I was moaning about the high price of a college education, when he suggested I join the police department. He took me out one night on a ride along, and he told me about a government-funded tuition program. I was a University of Nebraska senior at the time, but It was such a good deal, I decided to continue with graduate school. By the time I was done with that I had a family and a mortgage, and I was having a lot of fun as a young police sergeant.
I have John Hewitt to thank for setting me on this rewarding career path. He was an admirable guy in all respects, a good friend, and a loving husband and father. He was very proud of his sons, and I know he will be sorely missed.
John had a massive heart attack several years ago, and quite miraculously survived against all odds. He got a new lease on life, and he made the most of it. We were fortunate to enjoy his company for those extra years.
Friday, December 25, 2009
After dinner today, I’ll be heading downtown to relieve the day shift duty commander, Assistant Chief Jim Peschong. I will be covering the swing shift, and hopefully will find time to attend to my elf and bag man duties. I shall report about that on Monday, I suspect. In the meantime, here’s a pretty good story for Christmas morning.
I tell every new recruit class that this will eventually happen to them. They’ll be in line at the check stand, and someone will come up to them: “Remember me? You arrested me." Before you cringe, read this letter that Officer Steve Standley, a veteran of 35 years, received shortly before Christmas from a woman he had arrested for a drug offense.
I just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas. I also wanted to thank you for showing me such compassion when I was at my lowest point in my life. And I wanted you to know I listened to your advice: “Remember, the sun will come up tomorrow and it will be a new day to start.” And indeed it was. I have returned to school. I have been in College since May. I’m now on the dean’s list. I have changed my life in so many ways, I’m working two jobs, and receiving counseling for issues I had kept inside for too long. My husband said it was nice to see me smile again. You have made a difference in my life and my family’s life. I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and may God bless you.
P.S. I know you might not recall who I am, but I am the one you arrested on February 13, the day that changed my life.
I am sure there was no need for the postscript. Steve doesn’t forget such things, and although I am absolutely certain he’s had these experiences on many past occasions, he would remember his encounter with this young woman.
Sometimes what we do as police officers has impacts that we do not see, but rest assured they occur nonetheless, and probably with much greater frequency than we ever realize. Merry Christmas.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Okay, maybe I’ve been watching a little too much HGTV, but such is life. For about a year, we have been mulling over an update to our patrol cars’ graphics. Over the decades, we have had many different designs. The last time the scheme was seriously refreshed was in 1996, when we abandoned the two-tone paint job in favor of a decal set that has changed very slightly in the past 14 years.
Our first attempt at a new look was internal. Some of our own personnel put some thoughts on paper, and we had a couple of cars made-up with the results. You can do that nowadays, because the decals are computer-designed and robotically cut, so you don’t have to buy a boatload. The results--while good--were, well, not entirely inspirational.
Picking up on an idea that we jumped on for redesigning our recruitment materials, we turned to the University of Nebraska for help. Assistant Chief Jim Peschong contacted Professor Ron Bartels, who teaches GRPH 421, Advanced Graphic Design. His class took us on as a semester project, and presented their portfolios earlier this month.
The students pretty much blew us away with their concepts and execution, and you can’t beat the price . We are presently conducting an internal poll, and intend to pull together a couple more patrol cars with elements from the most popular concepts, so we can see them in the flesh. My snapshots aren’t the best, but here’s a few slides of the posters that adorn our lineup room (there are a lot more).
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The new ordinance has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2010. We will be working in the next few months to set in place the infrastructure that will be necessary to effectively enforce this new law. Several changes will take place: alarms must be registered (both business and residential), so that system will have to be established; we will have to come up with a mechanism for handling billing and accounts receivable, since the fees will go to the City; and we will need to tweak our system for tracking false alarms, since the new ordinance replaces a rolling 12 month period with a fixed two-year registration period.
Although false alarms are comparatively low and have been falling steadily in Lincoln (3,279 in 2008, and they will be even lower this year), I predict that the enactment of this ordinance, will cause another drop. My hope is that false alarms can be reduced without negatively impacting our ability to catch burglars in the act.
Monday, December 21, 2009
ORBIT MIST MANGO SURF GUM 1.49
REESE'S SNACK BAR CANDY 1.19
REESE'S FAST BREAK CANDY 1.49
DURACELL AA BATTERIES 5.33
M&M ICE CREAM COOKIE SANDWICH 1.69
SILVER ALTUS MP4 PLAYER 29.99
SILVER BOULLION INTERNATIONAL BRACELET 11.99
SILVER CURB BRACELET 11.99
BLACK/RE QUIKSILVER HOODED COAT 59.99
PINK TANK TOP 38.00
BLACK TANK TOP 58.00
ADDIDAS SHORTS 24.00
WHI LIQUID PAPER 22ML BOTTLE 2.29
RED 4 STAR MEMO PAD 6.99
MULIT 4 STAR WILLOW TREE ORNAMENT 12.00
WHI 4 STAR SNOWFLAKE NECKLACE 14.99
MULTI 4 STAR 2 STAR ORNAMENTS 7.98
CLEAN LIQUID MAKEUP 4.50
NAIL POLISH REMOVER 4.50
AUGEN NETBOOK PC 159.00
PHILLIPS 18 GAUGE SPEAKER WIRE 14.99
WHT IPOD CHARGING KIT 24.99
JACKASS, THE NOTEBOOK, 7 POUNDS MOVIES 44.97
IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA MOVIES (3) 92.97
BLU ALMOST FAMOUS BLUE JEANS. 29.99
UNK BIC VELOCITY PENCIL 3.15
SCU BASIC HDWRP 4.85
PM MEGA PENCIL PACK 2.89
SIL JARU HANDCUFFS 7.15
BIC VELOCITY PENCIL 3.15
BIC MATCH PENCIL 3.55
PM CPNT MECHANICAL PENCIL 4.59
DURACELL 2 PACKAGES AA BATTERY'S 7.90
ENERGIZER 3 PACKAGES AA BATTERY'S 11.97
DURACE 1 PACKAGE 8 PACK BATTERY'S 5.75
BEST CHOICE 3 LIGHTERS 4.02
SMIRNOFF VODKA 100 PROOF, BLUE LABEL 17.99
GRAY/BLA ECKO T-SHIRT WITH DESIGN 28.00
Friday, December 18, 2009
I received an email this week from an out-of-town dad . He was upset that his 20 year old daughter received a traffic ticket for following too close, after she rear-ended a car stopped in the left turn lane at an intersection, waiting to make a turn.
“She started to slide due to the icy street, not something [she] did wrong….I do not know or understand how the Officer can issue a summons if the street was icy…the accident was weather related…Could someone explain to me and my daughter how this is following to close?”
With a foot of snow dumped last week, there has certainly been an uptick in traffic crashes. Since school was closed for three days last week, things were not completely chaotic, but traffic picked up with the work week, and Monday (when this crash occurred) was indeed the peak day so far this winter, with 94 traffic crashes. Our year-round average is 24. Still, 94 would be nowhere near the peak day of the year (so far!), February 13th, when we investigated 148 crashes.
I understand that he supports his daughter, and feels bad that she both had a collision and received a ticket. I wonder what he would want to happen if he had been rear-ended by someone else. What I he also considers is this: several tens of thousands of people driving in the same conditions in Lincoln on Monday did not crash. They anticipated the road conditions, allowed more time, gave greater following distance, slowed more gradually, avoided the usual distractions, and all the other things folks do in order to be extra careful. Here’s my reply to dad:
“The law requires motorists to have their car under control at all times, and to maintain a safe following distance. This requires that motorists consider the roadway and weather conditions, and adjust their speed, following distance and vehicular movements accordingly. Anticipating the potential impact of snow, ice, water, wind, and other environmental factors on the operation of the vehicle is a crucial skill for any driver, and the very fact that your daughter rear-ended a car in front of her would indicate to me that she failed to adequately consider or anticipate the prevailing conditions. Tens of thousands of motorists navigated Lincoln's streets without collisions. When there is significant damage and evidence of a violation of the law, officers issue citations at accident scenes. Your daughter, however, is free to plead not guilty, and it would be the City's burden at trial to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she violated the law.”
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The flowchart resembles the instructions for assembling my granddaughter's doll house, the components of which are spread out right now on my ping pong table. How do they make those tiny shingles? The instructions seem to have been translated from Sanskrit into Middle French, before eventually landing in English. It would be easier to build a TV from a box of parts, and I've got one more week to make this look like a house!
The complexity of the justice system, however, frustrates me even more. From time to time here in the Chief's Corner I have whined about its inefficiency. It seems at times that it is just broken: bad actors get sweet plea deals, repeat offenders get light sentences, chronic criminals do not face increasingly severe penalties, well-known career criminals receive early release, and so forth.
I had a bit of a revelation yesterday during my second City Stat meeting with Mayor Beutler, when one of the citizens on the advisory panel considering our performance on the goal Livable Neighborhoods asked me a question. She was inquiring about the apparent failure of law enforcement and codes enforcement to abate nuisances in certain chronic cases when it suddenly struck me: we are hitching our trailer to the wrong truck if we are depending on arrest, prosecution, and criminal court sentences to solve such social ills. The process is slow, cumbersome, and uncoordinated. It is a barge, not a speedboat.
My sudden thought was this: it is that way on purpose. The Anglo-American justice system was never designed to be efficient. In fact, just the reverse: it is intentionally inefficient. We have a non-system where police, prosecutors, and courts are all separate entities without common management setting goals. It's not a crew that pulls in synchronous rhythm. We cherish principles such as "innocent until proven guilty," and "proof beyond a reasonable doubt." We have intentionally limited the power of police, prosecutors and courts in our statutes, laws, and Constitution.
That's as American as apple pie. This country was founded in the frustration of its citizens with despotic government. We abhor tyranny and anything that smacks of it. We are willing to let several criminals go free rather than to wrongly convict one. We have sought to limit and control the awesome power exercised by police, prosecutors, and courts in order to prevent its abuse and to protect principals that are dear to us.
In short, we have decided, as Americans, to control the power of government by creating and maintaining a justice system that is a Rube Goldberg contraption, rather than a well-oiled machine. Frustrated though I may be from time to time, I will try to remind myself that there the goal of the criminal justice system is to produce justice and to protect the public, without subverting the tenets of freedom. Sometimes that will inevitably conflict with what might seem to me to be sensible, efficient, and productive.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I took Friday off last week to help my mother-in-law, and didn’t spend much time in my inbox over the weekend. I get a lot of email—a whole lot—so a weekend of only occasional checks and subject lines leaves me with a sizeable backlog and a lot of catch-up.
A couple of messages (and others I have received in the past) have raised this concern. Folks, sending me an email is NO WAY to notify the police that you are the victim of telephone harassment, your teenage daughter is being stalked, or you are being tailgated by an angry driver having a road rage tantrum. And Crimestoppers is for providing tips on crimes, not for advising the police department that you are following a drunk driver, that the neighbors are playing music so loud the floors are shaking, or that someone dressed in dark clothing seems to be prowling the parking lot.
For about 90 years, the preferred method of calling the police has been to call the police—you know, press the digits on a telephone, then speak. It’s 911 in an emergency, and 441-6000 if you need us but it isn’t an emergency. We have a well-oiled communication process designed to get the information from you and to an officer in the field. If you send the police chief a personal email, post a comment on his blog, send an email to our generic account, or post a Crimestoppers tip about something that actually needs an immediate police response, all you are doing is slowing us down—sometimes by days.
We like to hear from you online, and email is a great way to discuss things with us, but it’s not the way to engage a prompt police response. Call us. We always answer.
Monday, December 14, 2009
At least Officer Jason Wesch wasn’t injured in this crash, but it would sure be nice if drunk drivers would stop running into our patrol cars. If you just can’t help yourself, please select an unoccupied police vehicle, rather than one of our new Chargers.
BLK FLIRT MAKEUP 12.00
SIL CANDIES HEART KEY CHAIN 14.00
MISC SO HEAD BANDS 8.00
SILV PLUMB WORK LIQUID CONNECTOR 3.66
SILV PLUMB WORKS WATER SAVER SHOWER HEAD 3.47
BOTTLE OF BRANDY (CHRISTIAN BROTHERS) 10.49
SKYY BOTTLE OF VODKA 20.79
RED BULL CAN OF 'ENERGY' DRINK 1.99
CRUZAN BOTTLE OF COCONUT RUM 11.99
ABSOLUT BOTTLE OF VODKA 19.99
CAPT. MORGAN BOTTLE OF 'ORIGINAL' SPICED RUM 15.99
SILVER METAL EARRINGS 7.99
1.75 ML BOTTLE JOSE CUERVO MIXER 17.99
QUATTRO MEN'S RAZOR'S 10.99
WHI EXACT EYELASH MASCARA 5.99
VENTURER LCD 15 IN TV 131.37
BLUERAY DVD BLADE RUNNER 32.99
BLUERAY DVD HANCOCK 29.99
BLUERAY DVD STARTREK 19.99
UNKNOWN AMOUNT OF MEAT
1.75 ML BOTTLE OF CAPTAIN MORGAN RUM 29.99
So far in 2009 (as of 12-13) there have been 1,680 shoplifting cases reported to LPD. Here is the number during the same time period (January 1 through December 13) for each year in this decade:
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Despite the weather, we were surprisingly busy yesterday, with 306 total dispatches: assaults, burglaries, thefts, child abuse, child porn, medical emergencies, child abuse, traffic crashes, you name it—even an indecent exposure. Nebraskan’s are hardy! Quite a few people called us to tell us they were stuck. “Yes, you most certainly are.” And there’s nothing like a foot of snow and a 40 MPH wind to bring these out:
1918: MALE BLOWING SNOW IN THE STREET
1806: BLK PU W/ WRIGHT CONST ON SIDE IN DRIVEWAY...PLOWED SNOW INTO INTERSECTION
1602: SAYS SHE FEELS LIKE HURTING SOMEONE...WILL WAIT OUT BACK SO SHE DOESNT
1550: PRIVATE CONTRACTOR PUSHING SNOW INTO 21 ST
1438:CALLER SAYS HIS ADULT NEIGHBOR IS SHOUTING PROFANITY AT HIM WHILE HE SHOVELS SNOW
1423: LINCOLN CONCRETE PUSHING SNOW INTO STREET WITH TWO RED PU(S)
1422: JL EXCAVATING USING A BOB CAT TO PUT SNOW IN STREET
1404: PARTY BLOWING SNOW INTO THE STREET ALSO ICE CHUNKS HITTING PASSING CARS CHIPPED COMP'S WINDSHIELD
1338: PEOPLE PUSHING SNOW FROM PRIVATE LOT INTO PUBLIC ALLEY
1331: NEIGHBORS USING 4WHEELERS TO PUSH SNOW INTO THE STREET
1303: NEIGHBOR IS BLOWING HIS SNOW DIRECTLY ONTO COMPS HOUSE - ONGOING PROB - ASKED HIM TO STOP AND HE STARTS ALL OVER AGAIN
1243: ATV WITH SNOW BLADE PUSHING SNOW OUT OF HIS DRIVEWAY ACROSS THE STREET AND ONTO THE STREET AND THE SIDEWALK SPACE OCCURRING AT THIS TIME
1223: MAN BLOWING SNOW INTO THE STREET...PLOW DRIVER TOLD HIM TO STOP ....THE MAN FLIPPED HIM OFF AND TOLD HIM TO DO HIS JOB
1014: NEIGHBOR FROM 1224 MULDER PUSHED HIS SNOW ACROSS THE STREET AND BLOCKED COMPS DRIVEWAY CONT PROBLEM AND COMP WANTS CONTACT
0959: KABREDLOS PUSHING SNOW ACROSS THE STREET COMP MAD BECAUSE THEY ARE PUSHING IT UP ONTO THE CURB IN FRONT OF HER HOUSE
0434: SNOWBLOWING HAS STARTED UP AGAIN
0417: IN THIS STRIP MALL, PEOPLE PUSHING SNOW OUT INTO THE STREET FROM THE PARKING LOT
0353: NISSAN PU BATTERY DEAD AND COMP IS VERY COLD ON NORTH PARK ROAD SOUNDS VERY C19 SAID HE GOT OFF WORK AT MIDNIGHT
0322: EX ROOM MATE STRANDED THERE -- IS C19 AND DESTROYING THINGS /// COMPL CALLING BACK SAYS SHE HAS LOCKED HERSELF IN THE BEDROOM
0300: RED JEEP CHEROKEE OUT OF STATE PLATES WAS FALLING DOWN DRUNK AND GOT IN VEH AND THEN GOT STUCK SOMEONE IS TRYING TO PULL HIM OUT NOW
0236: THIS NEIGH OUT ALREADY SNOWBLOWING HIS RESIDENCE
0223: SOMEONE PUSHING SNOW ONTO THE STREETS
0221: PARTYGOERS RUNNING OUTSIDE NAKED IN THE SNOW (FROM GROUND FLOOR APT)
0207: MAINT PUSHING SNOW OUT ONTO THE STREET FROM THE BUSINESS
0148: GF GOT STUCK AND NOW IS FLIPPING OUT AND YELLING AT COMP THEN SAID JUST GET SOMEONE OUT HERE AND TAKE HER AWAY AND HUNG UP
0116: PULLED HIS CAR IN FRONT OF COMP AND BLOCKED HER IN NOW SHE IS STUCK
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Not surprisingly, the City's top priority (Safety & Security) was the lead-off meeting, meaning the the police department was in the hot seat. With a series of just a handful of PowerPoint slides, I reported on how we are doing on violent crime, property crime, clearance rate, and injury traffic crashes. I used the same graphs that are posted on our public web site's Dashboard, adding a single sentence to summarize how it's going in the current year, through the end of November. Here's what the review of our performance indicators shows:
Violent Crime: We are well within our goal of no more than 555 offenses per 100,000 population, and the violent crime rate is down 8% again so far this year.
Property Crime: Our bellwether offense, the burglary rate, is up 5% this year. Despite this, large decreases last year mean that we are comfortably under the target maximum of 842 offenses per 100,000 population.
Clearance Rate: Through the end of November, our clearance rate is 30%, well over our goal of maintaining a 24% or better rate. It's the highest clearance rate on record.
Injury Traffic Crashes: Our injury crash rate is well under the cap of 850 per 100,000 and is down an additional 2% so far in 2009.
Next up is priority two: Livable Neighborhoods. The police department has a role in that one, too, so we'll be presenting some more progress data at the next meeting on response times and perceptions of neighborhood safety.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Nebraska’s regular season ended Saturday, but for the police department, the Kansas State game on November 21 was the end of our football season—the final home game of 2009. Sgt. Shannon Karl handles the details, and she provided me with the end-of-season wrap-up on the costs. The total cost for overtime was $35,033, an average of $5,005 per game in the season of seven home games.
Over the past several years, we have worked hard to drive those costs down. The City’s budget is tight, and we have tried to reduce these expenses without creating chaos. It has worked. Here’s the run down on the overtime cost per game for the past eight seasons:
2002 = $11,592
2003 = $10,816
2004 = $10,452
2005 = $10,600
2006 = $8,700
2007 = $5,402
2008 = $5,419
2009 = $5,005
The actual dollar amount per game has decreased by 57% during this time period. Base salary during this time period has increased slightly over 22%. Adjusting for the increase in the base, the 2009 cost amounts to a reduction of 65% in overtime expenses per game.
I think we must acknowledge how the new roadways developed as part of the Antelope Valley project have helped move a ton of traffic quite efficiently, but good planning and supervision of the detail has been critical to achieving these results. Sgt. Karl, Sgt. Arp, Capt. Davidsaver, Capt. Citta, and Capt. Kawamoto have managed LPD’s football detail at various times in the past decade, and I appreciate their work and that of all the officers with traffic assignments. I think they’ve done a great job.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Cheri Marti manages the group of civilian paraprofessional employees who staff the police service desk around the clock. I sought her help a couple of days ago in locating a teletype message sent from another police department to LPD back in October. She was able to quickly retrieve the message in the log file. Then it struck me: there’s no such thing as a teletype, and hasn’t been for a quarter century or so.
A teletype was an electromechanical device, the “teletypewriter” that fell roughly in between Morse Code and the Internet. It allowed an operator on one end to make key strokes (or feed in a punched tape), causing the characters to be typed on a printer located in another place by sending those electric pulses through a pair of copper wires—a telephone line. If there was a circuit-switched network, an operator in one location could send a message simultaneously to many distant terminals. For several decades, this is how critical information was transmitted among law enforcement agencies—and how the daily news ended up in your local paper from the Associated Press wire.
While the teletype was a machine, if you tore off one of the messages spewing out of the machine, you referred to that printed message as a teletype, too. Here we are, decades after the teletype machine has become obsolete, still referring to the printed output of telecommunications messages delivered by the International Justice and Public Safety Network as…teletypes.We have other examples of this phenomenon at the police Department. Around the station and on the radio, you will still hear many officers referring to “dispatch cards” even though the record of a police dispatch hasn’t been a card for a couple decades. Lots of telephone terms persist that from a different age and technology. Why to people talk about dialing a phone, or hanging up, and why do you still call the hotel switchboard, when there is no dial, nothing to hang, and no switchboard?
Cheri brought up one of these that had me giggling, when she mentioned the little pantomime we all do when we want someone to roll down their car window. When’s the last time you actually cranked a window down?
One of the things about my blog that makes me smile is the thought that a hundred years from now, someone will discover this archive about policing in Lincoln at the turn of the century, just like we discovered these. I wonder: in the year 2109, will people still be making little circles with their left hand, when they are trying to get you to pop the canopy in order to let you know that you’ve left the lid open on the flux capacitor?
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I expressed this concern a couple years ago here in the Chief's Corner. I think it is a good time for everyone to think about the importance of maintaining their situational awareness.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I would probably be one of the few local law officers who has ever had the experience of standing over a colleague killed in the line of duty, one early morning over 20 years ago, after dispatcher Linda Thurber called me out of bed. I will never forget running down the long, dark hallway to apartment number 9, where my fellow deputy lay on the floor just outside the door, a group of volunteer firefighters trying to save his life. One of the firefighters looked up at me and shook his head, a lump rose in my throat, and a blur of days began.
I cannot begin to imagine what the families of the four Lakewood, Washington police officers who were assassinated over the weekend are experiencing. I do, however, understand a little bit about what their coworkers are going through, and what their agency is experiencing. My heart goes out to them. Lakewood’s 128 employees are doubtless in shock. They are busying themselves now with work, but soon they will lay their brothers and sister to rest, and the true magnitude of the tragedy will sink in.
It will be many, many years before this wound begins to heal, and I hope that the support of their community will envelope them as this process begins. I hope the citizens of Lakewood cry with them. I hope that they will support the department financially through this tough economic cycle. I hope that they thank their police officers at every available opportunity. I hope more of them will volunteer with the department, attend their graduation ceremonies, send cards on police memorial day, deliver homemade cookies to the police station, and generally wrap their police department with the community’s care. I suspect that is precisely what is occurring now, and I hope it lasts a long, long time, because the road ahead for the Lakewood Police Department is a long one.
Thankfully, these events are rare. When they occur, though, we should all be reminded that the women and men who serve as our police officers confront the evil that lurks in humanity on behalf of all of us. They protect us, sometimes at great peril, from the worst mankind can dish up, and from our own folly, as well. May God bless them all, and may the Lakewood Police Department experience the power of love.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Last night at the late shift lineup, the Lincoln Police Department kicked off our traditional holiday drunk driving enforcement project. For at least the past 15 years, December has been the month where we put special attention on DWI—with great effect. It’s a good month to focus on, because the booze flows freely at lots of holiday events. We’re engaged in this life-saving work to do just that: save lives.
Last year’s 2,253 drunk driving arrests by LPD officers broke the record for a single year, shattering the mark that had stood for 34 years. This year, through the first ten months, we are running 5.2% ahead of 2008. It is almost a certainty that the bar will be set even higher by the end of 2009. There have been some particularly noteworthy drunk driving cases so far this year, and a couple hundred more can be reasonably anticipated.
A lot of hard work will take place by our night shift officers, not only during December, but throughout the year as these cases proceed through court, which inevitably requires their attendance in the middle of their “night.” I lift my cap to them in advance, for the job well done that I will be congratulating them for after the dawn of the new year.