A relaxing holiday weekend was a nice respite after a somewhat hectic week of local politics revolving around the proposal to place a public safety bond issue on the ballot for Lincoln voters sometime in the not-too-distant future. The good news is that despite the dust-up, a consensus seems to have emerged that the proposal to replace our radio system and to spread out our fire & rescue services is sound.
I was taken to task on my blog and in the comments on some of the news stories for a number of things: not moving more assertively to make the case for more police and more firefighters; being too assertive in doing so. I'm used to catching it from both directions, but one commenter made a good point that I should clarify, noting that the radio system serves not only public safety users, but several other City agencies: the Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Building and Safety and Health Departments.
This is quite true, although in some circumstances (like Saturday), the Public Works, Building and Safety, and Health Departments really are part of the public safety team. Nonetheless, you wouldn't ordinarily think of these operations as public safety. They are on the same radio system as a matter of practicality. It made no financial sense for several city agencies to operate and maintain separate radio systems, so back in 1987 we planned a single system to serve all the City agencies' radio needs. While it is a multi-user, I still think it's fair to characterize the system as a public safety radio network, since 85% of the actual use is by the public safety agencies.
Thursday, searching for a way of describing the City's growth since we last added a fire station in 1997, I decided to use a nearby 'burg that many Lincoln residents are familiar with from our days in the Big 8: Manhattan, Kansas. We've grown by 22 square miles and 57,000 people since 1997, and that's about the size of Manhattan. The City of Manhattan, of course, has a fire department--with five fire stations. It does not, however, have a police department. Rather, it is served by the Riley County Police Department, a countywide agency unique in our part of the United States, although common in some parts of the east and northwest.