Reading reports this morning, I encountered case number B5-005807, a robbery at gunpoint of a pizza delivery driver last night around 10:00 PM. Officer Russell Schoenbeck was assigned, and enlisted a lot of assistance from his fellow officers on the late night shift. In short order, the officers had tracked back a telephone number, and obtained a suspicious vehicle description from a neighborhood canvas. It wasn't long before other officers spotted the vehicle on the move, swooped in for the stop, and located key evidence. The suspects were taken into custody. All in all, great work leading to a good arrest.
It's the second robbery of a pizza delivery driver this year, and may have prevented more of these. We had seven delivery drivers robbed last year. What makes me especially pleased about this case is the initiative shown by all involved. Trust me, in many police department's of this size around the country, the uniformed officer would have done a preliminary investigation, filed an Incident Report, and been done. A detective would be assigned to the case a day or three later, and by that time the followup trail would be cold.
Not so in Lincoln, where our uniformed street officers have the training, skill, and experience to initiate their own followup investigation immediately. It's expected by all, and practiced regularly. This is why LPD officers who relocate to other departments are typically tapped for criminal investigations assignments in short order: they've got plenty of experience interviewing, processing evidence, obtaining search warrants, and similar tasks that are not necessarily common for uniformed officers in other big cities where the street officers don't have the same experience in the details of criminal investigation.
It's also why a number of LPD officers over the years have been tapped by the DEA, ATF, FBI, Secret Service, and have hit the ground running. They've accumulated talents, skill, and practice that many city officers just don't get very much opportunity to develop.
It hasn't always been that way. When I first pinned on the badge, every uniformed officer's badge was embossed with "Traffic Division," and we weren't expected to be bright enough to actually conduct investigations. That was the realm of the detectives, who stepped in and took over anything much bigger than a drunk or a panhandler. It was the source of considerable frustration for many uniformed officers of my era, who yearned for more respect, greater responsibility, and job enrichment.