Monday, March 21, 2016

Award bestowed

A pretty nice feather was poked into Lincoln's cap today at the weekly City Council meeting, when the chairman of the PulsePoint Foundation board of directors, Matt Stamey, and fellow board member Don Ledoux presented the City with the Foundation's first annual Award of Excellence. Matt and Don flew out from California specifically for this purpose, and it was an honor to have them visit.

Apparently Lincoln has been something of an overachiever with PulsePoint, the phenomenal life-saving application that delivers an alert to your smartphone if you're close to a location in a public place where someone may need CPR. We have an unusually large number of followers for our population, and we were recognized for our effective use of social media, traditional media, and such novel things as message boards and sports events to get the word out about PulsePoint.

As a result, slightly less than six months after the app launched on October 8, 2015 we have over 7,000 PulsePoint users following Lincoln Fire & Rescue, whereas our goal for the first year was 5,000. There have been 43 CPR alerts since the launch, which landed on exactly 200 smartphones. PulsePoint in Lincoln continues to grow, and has not yet plateaued. At the current rate, it's possible we could reach 10,000 in year one.

I asked Kelly Davila from our Emergency Communications Center, to accept the award on behalf of the City. Kelly is the one who worked methodically behind the scenes to coordinate all the moving parts that had to come together to bring PulsePoint to Lincoln.

From left: Dr. Jason Kruger, LF&R Medical Director; Systems Specialist Kelly Davila, 911 Center; Don Ledoux, PulsePoint Foundation Board; Tom Casady, Director of Public Safety; Julie Righter Dove, 911 Center Manager; Matt Stamey, PulsePoint Foundation Chairman; Patrick Borer, Assistant Fire Chief; Tim Linke, Interim Fire Chief

It never hurts when first-time visitors to Lincoln land on a perfect spring day, enjoy an evening stroll around the Haymarket, and a nice meal at a local favorite. Lincoln is a surprising find for many such travelers, and I suspect Don and Matt can appreciate my good fortune for living in such a community, and working with such great colleagues.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Time of offense

I made a chart last night of the day and time of the most recent 5,000 suspended driving cases handled by the Lincoln Police Department:

You can click on the chart for the full size image, which is easier to read. The rows are days of the week, Sunday at the top, Saturday at the bottom. The Column are hours of the day beginning at midnight from left to right. The color reflects the number of cases in each day/time cell from low (light blue) to high (deep red).

This kind of chart is known as a temporal heat chart, or a temporal grid, and I've published several of these on my blog over the years. This one is meant to show when suspended drivers are most often driving, or more specifically, when they are being caught. It's not on the way to school or work. Rather, it appears to be on the way home from bars.

The relationship to alcohol is hard to ignore. You will notice that it shows a similar pattern to this temporal heat chart of violent crime, which I published seven years ago (although the former reverses the column/row arrangement.) It also looks quite similar to this one from four years ago depicting DWI arrests.

All of these--suspended drivers, violent crimes, DWI arrests--are very different then this one, which shows over 30,000 traffic crashes, and reflects the density of traffic during the weekday rush hour.

The concentration of suspended drivers in the wee hours of the morning on drinking days may in part be caused by the nature of police activity. These are the times officers are most likely to be looking for drunk drivers, and in the process finding suspended ones al well. Or, the concentration could be caused by the fact that these are the times suspended drivers are more likely to be on the road, or more likely to be driving poorly and drawing the attention of the police.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Worth watching

Last week on my blog I mentioned a change in practice at the Lincoln Police Department aimed at reducing the problem of people who continue to drive motor vehicles after their operator's license has been suspended or revoked. The change involves taking advantage more often of a State statute that allows officers to impound cars driven by suspended drivers for up to 30 days.

While this has been used often in the past, there were several impediments to impounding every car, not the least of which is the sheer amount of time necessary to summon a wrecker. But after consulting with a broad committee of both law enforcement and public members, the department committed to redoubling its efforts to impound cars--particularly those driven by people who have a past history of driving while suspended.

I have been reading reports every morning and noting a big spike in vehicles beingimpounded. The night shift officers seem really committed to this, despite the pain of waiting around interminably and completing extra paper work, while knowing that there are many other things going on for which you may be needed.

This morning for the first time, I ran a little data. During the past week (February 26 to March 4), LPD officers arrested 42 suspended drivers. During the same week in 2015, there were 63. During the week prior to the public announcement of the enhanced effort and attendant publicity (February 17 to February 23, there were 58 arrests.

Many things influence suspended driving arrests: weather, the amount of time officers have available for traffic enforcement, and so forth. I am not yet willing yet to declare this before-and-after test  as proof positive that the new strategy is exerting a deterrent effect, but it is certainly worth watching over a longer term to see if the curve bends.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Violence reduction network

The Violence Reduction Network (VRN) is a program of the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance which aims to provide training and technical assistance to some of the cities with the highest rates of violence in the United States. To date, ten cities have received this help, and for 2016 three additional cities have been added: St. Louis, New Orleans, and Milwaukee.

I was in Washington DC today, attending the spring VRN summit at the request of the Feds, to provide some support to New Orleans and Milwaukee on a topic near-and-dear to us in Lincoln: crime analysis. Just click the link to that tag in the label cloud on my blog, and you'll see that we do a lot of work in Lincoln guided by data and analysis. We've developed somewhat of a reputation, hence the invitation--even though I'm not so sure our experience with such things as party disturbances and garage burglaries translates entirely to such things as car jackings and muggings.

Rather than making a presentation, though, my colleague Dr. Noah Fritz from Tempe AZ and I tried to facilitate discussion. These two cities have a pretty clear idea of their problems, issues, and challenges. They don't need us to figure that out, but sometimes an outside facilitator can help in lubricating a productive and frank assessment of where we are, where we want to be, and what we need to do to get there.

I hope that was the case. It takes a certain amount of courage for the VRN cities to step forward and ask for federal assistance, and I applaud them for their efforts. I made good contacts with New Orleans and Milwaukee, and hope I can be of further help in their efforts to leverage data and analysis to guide police tactics and strategies to effectively deal with violence in their communities.