Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Good bang for the buck

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.


Anonymous said...

A Southeast station is long over due and putting police and fire in the same building makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Why not kick Southeast Rural back into the "rural" area, and enhance that for your SE Lincoln location?

Tom Casady said...


Both Southeast Rural Fire District stations are inside the city limits of Lincoln, but the City has no authority over the rural fire district.

It would be a fine location for LF&R (as would their north facility), and we have asked if they would consider selling these to us, or allow us to make some additions and then co-locate at the same sites. They have not been interested.

Anonymous said...

Without a doubt the SE combined center is needed. But couldn't this money have been used to build a Firearms Range/Training Area instead? Given that the original plan to have the military provide the labor has fallen through and the continued use of LSO's range is not a long term solution and is costing us money in fuel and OT. Planning training is becoming more and more difficult as we literally don't have a place to conduct it, yet the Department is placing more of an emphasis on new training.
I am all for the SE combined center as it would clearly serve a need, but I question if it should take priority over the non existent training facility that we need right now.

Tom Casady said...


The range project is still moving forward. The military backing out will mean that the dollars won't stretch as far, but we'll be able to get a basic range facility done, and it will be a good platform for future improvements. We knew all along that ultimately we might have to do the entire project on our own.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the City couldn't get its act together quick enough to take advantage of the half million dollar offer from the Feds for the range. I hear they really helped Omaha Police build a top notch facility.

M Roselius said...

Between now and the time the facilities are built, isn't there an opportunity for LPD to station officers at one of the high schools? You've got a building that's mostly empty after 4p, wifi, plenty of parking, you create a police presence in the high school which everyone wants more of. I know it's not ideal - but I can't believe they can't find an unused classroom or some place you could set up and call home. If nothing else, drag out one of the portables they aren't using - then you have your private site, w/ the needed infrastructure right there. Just a thought.