Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Not that bad

Over the weekend a guest column ran in the Lincoln Journal Star, about which I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I appreciate citizen awareness and support. On the other hand, the column was a little, shall we say, alarmist. The author suggested that Lincoln's crime rate is higher than the last two places she has lived: New York City, and Martin County, Florida.

Not so fast.  As readers of the Director's Desk should know, the long term crime trend in Lincoln is down, and way down, since peaking in 1991. I cannot find a website named crimeratecomparison.com that the writer refers to in her column, but the most recent published national crime data is the 2009 Uniform Crime Report from the FBI. 2010's preliminary report is out, but the final report will be published this fall. In the 2009 UCR.

New York City's violent crime rate was 552 per 100,000.
Lincoln's violent crime rate was 458 per 100,000.

New York City's property crime rate was 1,670 per 100,000.
Lincoln's property crime rate was 3,933 per 100,000.

New York is a very safe city--among the safest big cities. Lincoln's violent crime rate, though, is significantly lower than New Yorks, and in the bottom third of cities within 50,000 either way of our population. While our property crime rate is significantly higher than New York's, 80% of those Lincoln property crimes are the most minor category:  larceny/theft. I suspect that most, if not all of the difference is a reporting phenomenon. Call the New York City Police Department and report that the Sunday New York Times was stolen from your front porch. This will be an interesting experiment. Let's see if that results in an official police crime report for larceny/theft. I guarantee it would in Lincoln. In fact, the most recent case number for a Sunday Journal Star stolen from a front porch is B0-107175. We had to fend off a few such reports when the Journal Star's printing press crashed on June 11.

As for Martin County, Florida, the FBI doesn't publish crime rates for counties, but the largest city in Martin County is Stuart, population 16,000. The 2009 violent crime rate in Stuart was 438 per 100,000, and property crime was 4,688 per 100,000. That's pretty similar to Lincoln, although in fairness I think you'd have to compare Stuart to a like-sized Nebraska City, such as LaVista ( violent crime: 52/100,00 and property crime: 1,995/100,000).

Nonetheless, I appreciate this writer's support and agree wholeheartedly that "taking care of the small stuff" helps prevent the big stuff. This was a mantra at LPD when Rudy Giuliani and I were attending different secondary schools together. I would challenge anyone to find a municipal police department of 321 officers who arrests people for 26,972 charges--as Lincoln did in 2010. I will put our arrest productivity up against anyone, anytime, anywhere. This is a bad City to live in if you're a chronic rider-of-bicycles-upon-downtown-sidewalks.

While she overstates the case, the call to awareness and action is always a good one. Watchful citizens are even more important than plentiful police officers in preventing crime. I think when people get the impression that crime in Lincoln is way up, it is a result of ubiquitous news media coverage of crime (scroll all the way to the bottom, or you'll die of boredom).

On second thought, you best not call NYPD to report the Times stolen: that would be filing a false police report.

20 comments:

JIM J said...

I am the only person who has ever called to ask if the location of a DWI check point could be disclosed. I learned, After a very short, but kind, conversation with a dispatcher, that the location is CIA top secret.Because the dispatcher said they are very busy and the service desk not having an open line I waited to today to ask further.

I posted some pictures of the last one on my blog and had hoped to get some new ones this year.
If "Watchful citizens are even more important than plentiful police officers in preventing crime" is true, I think disclosing to a few, or, in this case one person, a DWI check point location would not be a danger to national security.
My blog has the intent to help others understand the many, many situations that accidents present. Posting a few night pictures of the action may have an impact on few, but if just one is impacted, and if it keeps the public informed, it furthers the intent of keeping people from drinking and driving.
While out looking for the stop location, I counted three cars that hit the curb, six red light runners, two cars throwing trash from the vehicle and several people snooping around cars in south Lincoln. I guess being a watchfull person is "Not that bad" but it is a two way street. Now my question...drum roll..
So, how is the "secret" location any more of a factor in reaching the goal of arresting drunk drivers? Perhaps you would consider a list of "others" who may be told, and in doing so, further the attempt to educate and prevent DWI. I will send you a personal e-mail with my name and information for consideration. As a person who attended the six week LPD C-A, I was of the impression that this is not that big of a shhhh do not tell anyone event.

JIM J said...

*

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks that the reported rates of violent crime (with the exception of murder and business robbery) and property crime (with the exception of auto theft) are the same as the actual rates of those crimes is so hopelessly naive that they'd probably walk up and try to pet a Kodiak bear because it looks soft and cuddly.

Anonymous said...

NYC sure seems like a safe place lately, doesn't it.

Anonymous said...

So crime is down but the new Chief says there are not enough traffic tickets being written and arrests being made. How can the city keep taking things away but expect more productivity every year? Where does it end?

Steve said...

9:36

And to think, we canceled our parade simply to save money!

Anonymous said...

It's a shame that the hit and run solve rate isn't higher, though some officials think that a near 25% solve rate is good work.

Anonymous said...

To Jim J, most departments announce that there will be check points, but not the exact location. Broadcasting that there will be a DUI checkpoint at 27-O would only insure that every drunk leaving downtown found an alternate route home. Unfortunately, knowledge of the checkpoint isn't the deterrent, people will drink, people will drive, all the police can do is try to take as many off the road as they can. It's a tough battle and the element of surprise is one of the effective tools.

JIM J said...

The entire point to being drunk is to make decisions that make no sense. A drunk will not avoid a check point..I agree letting everyone know the location is counter productive. Look at how many drug shuttles pull off the interstate when they see the "drug chck point ahead" sign. But a drunk "A real" drunk will not think like a sober person...IMHO....I still hope to get on the let know list..but have not sent PSD an email yet. I am sure he is considering that though because the media would be told if they requested..

Anonymous said...

As soon as I read the "CIA top secret" bit, I immediately ignored the rest of the overly-long comment.

Anonymous said...

"A drunk will not avoid a check point"

Oh, really. I suppose that comes from your long experience in law enforcement.

JIM J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

12:18, re: JimJ's response:

How do your spell TWO SHAY?

Anonymous said...

I've often wondered if it might help the quality of local-media crime reporting if LPD/LSO/NSP/UNLPD would have a some sort of half-day journalist workshop every few years. A lot of scribblers only seem to understand how to parrot what they're given, but also seem unable to ask the right questions that aid a complete story, or to see through things like reported vs actual rates, the potential crime-spike effect of having even a single habitual violent felon paroled and moved into an area, and so forth.

A lot of these younger "we hired the intern on the cheap" reporters don't impress at all.

JIM J said...

Not sure my drunk post made much sense. So I took it down. After reviewing it, the way I worded it it could have several meanings.

Anonymous said...

Do any of you have links to medical studies that show the percentages of blood/alcohol when impairment first starts? I realize some people have a higher tolerance than others so you have to set the legal BAC at a level where the first signs of impairment start showing up in test subjects.

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

Gun Nut-Actually the first signs of impairment in a lot of people will show up well below the legal limit. For seasoned/functioning alcoholics, signs of impairment are sometimes masked because well above the limit is their norm, but they are still impaired. Since I know you ride, I'd also mention that impairment while riding a motorcycle is even deadlier because the rider needs to balance the vehicle, and use both hands and both feet in a semi-coordinated fashion. Not to mention you don't have seat belts, metal crush zones, and an airbag to save you from yourself.Short answer-everyone is different, but impairment sets in below the legal limit.

256

Anonymous said...

256,

Correct, it sets in much, much lower. The allowable BAC limit for driving should be the same at which the average parent would want for the surgeon about to perform surgery on their child's eyes, or the pilot about to fly their family home for Christmas - zero, not even a touch of the "brown-bottle flu".

Anonymous said...

functioning alcoholics?..lol That is ah good one. May I suggest al-anon?

Anonymous said...

Back to what 5:11 said Director. I hear people complain about hit and run accidents not being solved enough. 5:11 says solving 25% of the hit and run accidents is not enough. I think that's pretty good if you ask me since most hit and run accidents are discovered way after the fact and there isn't any kind of evidence or description of the PR vehicle. Maybe you could do a blog from your "Directory" about hit and run accidents. It might put some nay sayers in their place. I think they watch too many crime shows.