Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Not entirely unusual

A youtube video of a dust-up at bar break in Lincoln last Saturday night (which was actually 2:23 AM Sunday morning) was getting a bit of attention from the media yesterday.  The video shows a couple of small fights, a few women exchanging blows, a couple of people stumbling drunk in the street and sidewalk, and a group of police officers, calmly and professionally trying to disperse the crowd.

As he leaves the area, the videographer warns a couple pedestrians headed the opposite direction to be careful "There's a #@!&+ riot going on over there!" Well, not exactly, but certainly a tense street scene that was expertly handled by the officers, with no one being hurt, and without the police action becoming the flashpoint for an even bigger brouhaha.

Many people who have seen it are somewhat shocked by the scene, but Assistant Chief Brian Jackson and I were remarking how typical it really is.  The scuffle may be a little larger than usual, but these kinds of scenes occur from time to time at bar break in similar areas all over the world. I've blogged about this problem on several past occasions.  In Lincoln, this occurs at 14th & O Streets, where the bars that cater to the young, hard drinking crowd are congregated.  Keeping your cool when surrounded by this kind of behavior is not an easy task. Well done, officers.


Anonymous said...

Good restraint by the officers, unfortunately, with the main actors not being arrested, it likely just reinforced too the group what is acceptable behavior for them to do and get away with, without going to jail. So, next time it will likely be worse. Maybe the downtown cameras will be activated?

Anonymous said...

I have a suggestion that might make the jobs of officers easier in situations like this. There are old school buses available at a very low price. LPD should buy one or two of these and rig them to be used as a mobile holding facility. When an unruly crowd situation develops an officer/driver/booking would be dispatched to the scene. Instead of officers having to load unruly folks into a cruiser they would take them to the bus, in restraints and chain them to special restraints built in to the structure of the bus. A regular 42 passenger school bus could probably house 20 or so unruly customers and keep them separated from others. Several officers could be cross trained and licensed to operate this bus for low cost. Think "paddy wagon" on a larger scale.

BTW the You Tube showed LPD officers acting in a very professional way. Good job.
Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

Speaking of YouTube.......What are your thoughts on LPD's Harlem Shake video? I did not realize the Chief moved that well!

Steve said...

Quite a contrast between LPD's handling of a situation and OPD's if you asked me. I agree some of those individuals probably should have been arrested, but sorting that out, and not escalating the situation would have been a nightmare. Controlling and dispersing was probably the only practical thing that could be done. That being said, I think it is imperative that video cameras be allowed to record these kinds of things, not only to provide evidence for criminal prosecutions, but also to protect Lincoln and the officers from law suits should someone claim inappropriate actions by police.

Perhaps, Tom, you could answer a question that has always plagued me that is related to this situation. That is, what authority do police have to tell people to "go home" or to leave the area or other such directions. I am always reminded of back when I was a kid, and someone's parent would come out to break up a gathering of kids for some reason and yell at them to "go home". My first thought was always, "You can make me leave your yard, but you can't make me go home." A recent post of yours, if I recall correctly, stated that LPD would not stop citizens from photographing or taking videos at a scene where officers were involved as long as they didn't interfere with whatever was going on. I can certainly understand why police would want people to leave an area such as the one where this event occurred, but what real authority do they have in that regard?

Anonymous said...

Wow Steve...I'm surprised you would even ask that question. Sounds like something from the sixties...Defy all Authority! It also raises the question of "why wouldn't you want to leave?" You don't think there was a possibility of danger to an innocent bystander and the officers are trying to protect them too?

Here's the ordinance that gives an officer to make someone leave the area:

9.20.060 Failure to Disperse.
(a) Whenever a police officer has probable cause to believe that a person or persons are
creating a disturbance of the peace and quiet of
any person or neighborhood, su
ch police officer may
order said person or persons not residing on the premises to disperse for the purpose of abating the
said disturbance.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to refuse
to comply with a lawful order to disperse
given by a police officer in the performance of
the officer's duties under this section. (Ord. 15621
§6; July 9, 1990: P.C. §9.52.035: Ord. 13762 §4; February 13, 1984).

Anonymous said...

Somebody forgot to watch Chris Rock's Training Video!

Steve said...

12:20 anon:

Lighten up man! I never suggested anyone should defy police orders to disperse, nor that I would not want to leave the area, nor did I question the police officers' motive for issuing such an order. I simply wanted to know what authority they had for doing so, and you have, at least at the local level, supplied that. Thank you. It does, however seem a rather ambiguous ordinance. What exactly constitutes dispersion? Ten feet, 20 feet, a hundred feet, a mile? Does a person who is doing nothing but watching the commotion (or taping the event) provide the probable cause for said officer to believe they are creating a disturbance of the peace? Again, I'm not suggesting anyone defy police orders to disperse. Still, the question of what provides probable cause and how far must one go to be in compliance of an order to disperse are questions I think need to be answered.

Say a person witnessing the event in question is told to disperse, or leave the area if you will. Say they go up the elevator to the second floor of the parking garage and start taking video of the scene below. Say the police don't care for that video to be taken, and they send someone up to arrest that person for failing to disperse. Do they have a probable cause, or has that person actually failed to disperse? Just asking, mind you.

Anonymous said...

That's what court if for Steve. If an Officer tells someone to leave and they don't, they go to jail and then have their day in court if they so choose.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see that 14th & O camera activated, and furthermore, I'd like to see a streaming feed (maybe at a low frame rate to cut down on bandwidth) publicly available. I think that many taxpayers would be interested in what goes on down there post-midnight through bar break, as might out-of-state parents of UNL students.

With the exodus of retail shopping downtown over the past couple of decades (remember back when if you had an apt downtown you could shop for almost anything you needed, including groceries. without walking far at all?), downtown Lincoln has become bars, sandwich shops, banking, bars, sandwich shops, government, bars, sandwich shops, oh and a few retailers here and there.

Anonymous said...

The UGLY truth that we all ignore is that on any given time of the day a huge number of the patrons of the downtown bars are not a LEGAL drinking age. Fake IDs are a booming business for many UNL students. So is illegal drug use.

Gun Nut