Shortly before our budget hearing with the city council last Friday, the Mayor was briefed by the Finance Department about their discovery of a $275, 000 swing in the City's available annual revenue (it's actually $48,000 in the first year, and $275,000 thereafter). The Mayor's Chief of Staff contacted me, and said the Mayor wanted to use this for public safety. The Mayor wanted my advice on what the best application of these funds would be.
I suggested that we use this to get cracking on the fire station optimization plan, and specifically on jump-starting one of the four stations: a joint police/fire facility in southeast Lincoln. I think this kills two birds with one stone. It provides a fire and EMS footprint into the rapidly-growing area where we are well-beyond four minutes drive time from the closest fire station. It also provides a police facility for officers who are assigned to the southern tier of the city and currently deploy at shift change from downtown police headquarters.
A couple of years ago, I described the fire station optimization plan in detail in a three part series. I followed that series up with a description of my vision for a joint facility. Given Lincoln's geographic growth, a police station in southeast Lincoln is inevitable, and I think we now have an opportunity to set the wheels in motion. This would be a good thing, and would provide a good bang for the buck.
Our experience with the Northeast Team police station at 49th and Huntington Ave. has demonstrated some of the benefits that arise from decentralizing deployment. Less time is spent commuting to and from downtown, saving both personnel hours and fuel. One of the potential locations for the proposed joint facility is 2.6 miles closer to the center point of the Southeast Team area than headquarters, from which officers presently deploy. That's 5.2 miles and 12 minutes per officer daily, minimum. In reality, there are additional trips to and from downtown that will also be avoided, such as supply runs, evidence, and interview room access.
Moreover, the City's comprehensive plan shows significant growth south and east, which will enlarge the area considerably, and push the center-of-mass for the Southeast Team even further away from downtown. Based on that future growth area, we would eventually be saving 9.6 miles and 21:20 per officer each day.
When you do the math, here's what such a move would deliver every year, just on the police side: a savings of 1,825 officer-hours, and 62,050 miles. With our current fleet average of 13.5 MPG, that amounts 4,596 of unleaded. Looking at the future service area from the comprehensive plan, this grows to 3,244 officer-hours, 87,600 miles, and 6,489 gallons of fuel annually.