Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Public safety bloggers

There are a lot of sites out their that aggregate links to blogging police chiefs, public safety directors, fire chiefs, cops and firefighters. There is a new one, however, that I like. It's from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, of which I am a lifetime member for the past several years. They award you lifetime membership after you've paid dues for 20 years--theorizing, I suspect, that you're not going to burden the budget for much longer anyway.

IACPnet has a nice feed of a few prolific police/public safety bloggers. I'm enjoying seeing what my peers like Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte, Madison Police Chief Michael Koval, Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay, and Auburn Hills Public Safety Director Doreen Olko are thinking about. So might you.

Back in 2007, when I launched the Chief's Corner (now the Director's Desk), you could count police chief bloggers on one hand, and have a few digits left over. My inspiration at the time was Manny Diaz, Mayor of Miami. So here we are, in the eighth year, 1,290 posts and  nearly 15,000 reader comments down the road, still going strong after a burst of wee-hour productivity last week.

Though readership isn't quite what it used to be, Twitter has pretty much taken over the field, and writer's block has become my nemesis, I continue to enjoy blogging as a way of getting my unfiltered ideas and opinions in front a few thousand loyal followers every month.

As I always say, sometimes I even bore myself.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The last increment

All week long I've laid out my belief that racial disparity in traffic stops and in the outcome of those stops is being driven primarily by racial disparity in income, and to a lesser extent by police deployment practices--not, by and large, racial prejudice by the police. While my own analysis of the data convinces me of this, I also believe that racial bias accounts for some of the disparity--albeit only a fraction.

I believe this because I have seen it on occasion in Lincoln. I think in Lincoln, at least, it is almost always the result of an unintended or even subconscious bias, but it is real nonetheless. I've described some of my observations on this previously.

The last increment is what I'm most interested in learning about and impacting as public safety director. We will not tolerate racist police officers in Lincoln. We go to great length to weed out anyone with racist attitudes during the selection process--including a polygraph exam that explores this. We also have done mandatory training on cultural sensitivity, cultural awareness, and racial profiling for years. If racist police officers were the cause of disparity in traffic stops, you'd think it would be going down over the years, but it isn't.

Much of what I've seen, however, has not been the acting out of racist tendencies, but rather the failure to think about how well-intentioned activities can have a racially disparate impact that is unjustified and unfair. I want our police department and our officers to understand how practices they may engage in can have a disparate impact that is unjustified, and what they can do to avoid this unfairness.

An example: perhaps an officer has gleaned from her experience that there is a greater likelihood that drivers of an older sedan will be suspended, or have a warrant, than drivers of a late-model minivans or SUVs. As a result, she focuses much of her attention on the former, and not so much on the later, because she believes this strategy is will result in more higher-value arrests, rather than just traffic tickets. If there is racial disparity in the drivers of these two broad vehicle categories, her practice will result in racial disparity in her stops and arrests, as well. It's vehicle profiling, not racial profiling, but the result is the same: disparity, and disparity without much justification. Avoiding this is easy: spread your effort around, and don't fixate on older sedans. Plenty of SUV and minivan drivers are texting while driving, speeding, and pushing the envelope on red lights, too.

As our ability to target resources to areas most affected by crime and disorder improves, we must also be cautious to make sure our efforts are viewed as legitimate by the citizens who live in those areas. We should avoid policing tactics that can damage our relationships while returning little in terms of actually reducing crime and disorder. Strategies that emphasize collaboration, early intervention, problem-solving and prevention should continue to be a focus.

I also want individual police officers to understand what they can do to minimize the perception of racial profiling among minority citizens during traffic stops. Perception is everything, and there is no denying that the perception by African American citizens that the police engage in racial profiling is  quite high. You will not convince people otherwise with data: you will only convince them with your actions.

Those actions are not complex. It is really quite simple, and it is what I teach: Introduce yourself. Tell motorists why you stopped them. Be polite. Listen to what the motorist has to say. Explain  things calmly and thoroughly. Answer any questions. Be fair. Leave the motorist with your name and employee number on a ticket, a warning, or a business card. And above all, make sure your stops are always supported by probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

Links to the series:


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Other disparities

So far this week, I've only dealt with disparity in the race of traffic stops. There is also disparity in the outcomes of those stops. Under the law, a police officer must collect data on what happens as the result of a traffic stop: custodial arrest, citation, warning citation, or none of these. If more than one applies, you pick the highest outcome.

Lincoln's data shows that black and African-American motorists are much more likely to be taken into custody rather than merely issued a citation, compared to white motorists. The ACLU concludes that this, too, is evidence of racial profiling by Lincoln police. I disagree. The primary cause for this disparity lies in the racial disparity in arrest warrants. Arrest warrants are issued by the court, in circumstances such as when a defendant has failed to appear, neglected to pay a fine, or fallen behind on child support payments. Warrants require the officer to make a custodial arrest. It is not optional.

An arrest pursuant to a court-issued warrant is the most common arrest made by a Lincoln police officer. Last Thursday morning, in preparation for the Crime Commission's Racial Profiling Advisory Committee meeting, I looked at the racial makeup of the defendants of the 3,432 that were held by the Lincoln Police Department at the time:

WHITE:                       1834     53.4%
BLACK:                         917    26.7%
HISPANIC:                    536    15.6%
ASIAN:                            37       1  %
NATIVE AMERICAN:    108      3.1%

Police officers conducting traffic enforcement routinely run a computer checks on drivers. An arrest warrant turns a warning ticket for into a trip to jail. If Lincoln's population is 5.3% black or black in combination with some other race, then the disparity of arrest warrants is a factor of five. This explains the disparity in custodial arrests from traffic stops. Custodial arrest is the outcome in only 1.3% of the traffic stops overall, so it's still rather uncommon.

This same racial disparity in arrest warrants also exists in suspended drivers, by the way. Suspended driving is a high-grade traffic misdemeanor, and an offense that frequently involves a custodial arrest. Thus, racial disparity in suspended drivers is also contributing to the racial disparity in the outcome of traffic stops.

While the disparity in warrants and suspended drivers helps explain the disparity in custodial arrest, it is also in part a circular argument: warrants and license suspensions occur when charges accumulate. One leads to the other. Something I'm quite interested in is whether we could do anything in our community to reduce the number of arrest warrants that are issued. This would not only reduce the disparity in custodial arrests, but it would save some considerable criminal justice resources.

****Message to Parents of Young Adults Living in Lincoln:****
You might want to bookmark this page, and put a repeating reminder in your calendar app so you remember to check once a month.

Links to the series:


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The correct denominator

For the past few days, I have taken issue with the ACLU's assertion that racial disparity in traffic stops indicates alarmingly high rates of racial profiling in Lincoln. I think their analysis is shallow. I would be the first to agree, however, that we need to better understand this phenomenon. I've reached the limit of my own ability to work with these data, but I am encouraged by what appears to be a renewed interest in this field of study, as evidenced by the Department of Justice initiative announced last week.

I have a second problem with the ACLU's report, and it concerns the denominator. Their numbers are wrong. I'll give them a do-over, because the Crime Commission's data is not right, either. Here's what the ACLU says:

"Black drivers in Lincoln are stopped by the Lincoln Police Department almost three times as often as they should be: the black population of the area is 3.5%, yet black drivers were 9.6% of the stops."

Lincoln's population is not 3.5% black. In the 2010 Census, it was 3.8% black. The ACLU is using the Lancaster County population data, not the City of Lincoln. The Crime Commission's report also uses incorrect data. While they have it right in table B on page 14, and in table C2 on page 17, they have this totally incorrect statement in the executive summary on page  4:

"The Lincoln Police Department stops Blacks almost three times as their local adult population (9.6% to 3.3%)"

The bad grammar comes directly from their report, and I have no idea at all where that 3.3% figure came from. Maybe it's a cut-and-paste error from a previous year's report, but it is wrong. To be clear, in the 2010 census, the one race only black population of Lincoln is 3.8%. That may not sound like much of a difference, but it is. It is the difference between "almost three times" and "more than twice." The fact that the mistake is in the executive summary doesn't help. I suspect some people read no further.

Moreover, that was the percentage of Lincoln residents who identified themselves as one race only. But a large number of residents identify themselves as black and some other race. Beginning n 2000, for the first time you could specify more than one race. The Census Bureau began reporting both one race only data, and two or more races data. In the 2000 census data,  3.1% of Lincoln residents were black, and 3.8% were black or black and one or more other race.  In the 2010 census, this had grown to 3.8% and 5.3%, respectively. Check the data yourself with the Census Bureau's excellent tool, American Fact Finder, but be sure you get the City of Lincoln, not Lincoln County.

Based on the change from the 2000 census to 2010, It appears that more and more people are identifying themselves as multi-racial. If the Crime Commission is going to use the population of black residents as a comparison for traffic stops, they should use the 5.3% figure, or should just report both figures. Here's why: Nebraska's law requires police officers to collect data on the race of all motorists stopped, but prohibits officers from asking the driver. Race is simply the officer's best guess. In a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural world, these guesses are becoming more problematic. What would you select if you stopped Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal breezing down Vine Street 10 over the limit?

Here are a couple of rather prominent multi-racial Americans: Barack Obama and Tiger Woods. I think that if either of them was pulled over in Lincoln for expired tags, the officer would almost certainly select "B" from the drop down, not "W" or "A". Hence, the Crime Commission should use 5.3%, which is a lot closer to 9.6% of the stops than the inaccurate 3.5% quoted by the ACLU or, worse yet, 3.3% in the Crime Commission report's executive summary. The correct denominator is important.

Still, the fact that 5.3% of the population is black or black and some other race, while 9.6% of the stops were of black motorists is of concern to me. I'd like to understand that better, so we can apply the right strategy to the portion of that disparity that may be the result of actions that are unjustified, unfair, or ineffective.

As an aside, the 726 black drivers involved in traffic crashes reported to the police in Lincoln last year would represent 5.4% of the total, which was 12,915. Maybe it's coincidence, but that's mighty close to 5.3%, and tends to confirm my belief, described in Monday's post, that traffic crash driver demographics make the best denominator for examining disparity in traffic stops.

Links to the series:


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Income and disparity

Yesterday, I discussed the impact of police deployment practices on the racial disparity apparent in traffic stops by the Lincoln Police Department. Today, I am focusing on the Big Dog: income. More than any other factor, racial differences in income influence disparity in traffic stops.

Back in 2003, I wanted to explore this possibility. I obtained an export from our records management system of all traffic tickets written by LPD officers the preceding year, 2002, then dropped those data into an Excel spreadsheet. Using pivot tables, I produced counts and queries by offense type. The racial disparity for some offense types, such as driving while suspended, fictitious plates, no insurance, and improper registration, was exceptionally large: a factor of four or five for African-American motorists compared to population.

For the most common traffic offense, speeding, there was no racial disparity in the 2002 traffic citation data. The most disparate offenses were all related to one's ability to buy insurance, pay registration fees and taxes, pay fines, reinstatement fees, and the like. These income-related offenses were driving the overall disparity. I did the same thing the following year with 2003 data, then again last week with the over 50,000 traffic charges from 2013. Basically, the same results emerge by offense type, looking at tens of thousands of tickets.

I also did some work using the field in the data for the model year of the vehicle. I reasoned that the model year of the vehicle might be a rough indicator of income, and my thought was to use it as a stand-in variable. When you look at late-model vehicles--those in the most recent five model years--racial disparity pretty much evaporates.

I think these findings are intriguing, and suggest a significant influence of income on racial disparity in traffic stops. Research Methods was one of my toughest courses in grad school, and I'm no PhD. I have discussed my ideas and offered these data for a decade to several people who are, however, including faculty members in the University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, from which I am a graduate.

Every academician I've talked to about this has been interested in what I have found, but so far there have been no takers. Last week, after reading the news that Attorney General Eric Holder announced a major Federal research effort on racial profiling, I contacted the portfolio manager for that research at DOJ with yet another offer. We shall see. All law enforcement agencies collect the offense type and the model year of the vehicle on their traffic tickets. The work I've done in Lincoln could be repeated almost anywhere, and a broader sample might provide more insight into how income affects racial disparity in traffic stops.

Here's why this is important: if most of the racial disparity is the result of income differences, we are barking up the wrong tree trying to fix it with the usual formula: screening police applicants for signs of racism, implicit bias training for officers, enhanced accountability systems, and so forth. This doesn't mean these steps have no value (they are valuable in their own right), but they are not likely to impact disparity because they are not related to its cause.

It is worth noting that racial disparity in police traffic stops is only the tip of the iceberg. We live in a country where there is huge racial disparity in educational outcomes, income, incarceration, health, and even life expectancy. Deal with the first one, educational outcomes, and the others will largely disappear over time. That's what I've been advocating.

Links to the series:


Monday, September 22, 2014

Disparity vs. profiling

As I mentioned yesterday, I take exception with the ACLU's assertion that racial disparity in traffic stop data indicates"alarmingly high" rates of racial profiling. Disparity and profiling are not the same. While I think the disparity should cause (and has caused) us to step back and take a good look at what's going on, to conclude that racial profiling is causing the disparity without further examination is a logical leap.

Profiling, the act of targeting people of color due to their race, assumes that police officers and agencies, either intentionally or subconsciously, are acting upon racial prejudice and bias. Disparity however, can occur for a variety of reasons. For example, the Crime Commission compares traffic stops to population demographics. But what if census data doesn't reflect who's actually on the road, or what their likelihood is of committing a traffic infraction? A better denominator than population might be the data on licensed drivers, or maybe the age profile of drivers (since we know age is related to traffic violations), or an actual roadside count of motorists.

After lots of thinking about this over the past 12 years, and lots of exploration in our data, I think the best denominator is involvement in traffic collisions. One's likelihood of being stopped, all other things being equal, ought to approximate the race of the 12,915 drivers who were involved in traffic crashes in Lincoln last year. Crash data would automatically account for racial differences in driving behavior, age profile, driving frequency, and mileage. What it would not account for, however, is where the police are actually patrolling, and the racial makeup of the people driving in these areas.

Some racial disparity in traffic stops may be the result of the common police practice of deploying officers into areas where crime and disorder problems are most prominent. We work very hard on this in Lincoln, as does Omaha, and we've gotten much better at it with sophisticated crime analysis and GIS. There are far more officers per square mile in the areas with high crime and disorder, and these also tend to be lower income and considerably more diverse.

This screen shot is from HunchLab 2.0, one of the analytical software products we use to forecast hotspots of crime in the next few hours. The colored blocks are individual cells or groups of cells. Each is a 200 meter square area where the risk of crime is elevated, and the colors denote the dominant crime type. The cluster in the core of the city south of downtown and along 27th Street is persistent, and this is the area of Lincoln where you will find the highest concentration of police officers. It is also among the most racially diverse areas in Lincoln.

As a result of the deployment pattern, the likelihood of police stops in these areas is greater in the areas where there is also a greater percentage of minorities than in the general population. You can question the deployment strategy, but if some of the disparity in stops is emerging from this cause, rather than from police bias, that portion is not racial profiling. If you want to impact this portion of disparity, all the sensitivity and cultural awareness training on earth will fail. Rather, you need to convince the police to deploy differently. We could have a healthy discussion about that, but I think people living and working in Lincoln neighborhoods that are most impacted by crime and disorder generally want more police presence and activity, not less.

The type of activity, however, is also relevant. I believe that problem-solving, prevention, and early intervention, ought to be an important part of the mix, and are less likely to be perceived as racially-motivated than some other tactics, such as intensive use of stop-and-frisk. When the community sees the police working collaboaratively with the neighborhood stakeholders, it is less likely to view such things as arrests, traffic stops, and hot spot patrols as bias-based, and more likely to view these are legitimate efforts to reduce crime and disorder.

Links to the series:


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Racial profiling series

Thursday was a busy day, beginning with a 6:45 AM radio show, where I talked about racial profiling, and ended with the same topic at a 6:00 PM meeting of the Lincoln branch of the NAACP. In between, I attended and testified at a meeting of the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice's Racial Profiling Advisory Committee.

I had been looking forward to the opportunity to discuss these issues. I think I provided the Crime Commission's committee with some good food for thought, and I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to speak with the NAACP. We don't talk enough about race in our culture, particulary with people of different races than our own, and it's refreshing to do so in an open, honest manner.

Racial profiling has been a hot issue lately, in part due to the release of a report by the Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. In addition, a coalition of civil rights organizations delivered a letter to the Crime Commission urging an investigation of four Nebraska law enforcement agencies: the Lincoln, Omaha, Lexington Police Departments, and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

I have never shied away from race or racial profiling, and it has been the subject of some of my past blog posts over the years. There is racial disparity in traffic stops by the Lincoln Police Department. This has been the case since the State started collecting these data in 2002. The call for investigation characterizes this disparity as an "alarmingly high" rate of racial profiling.

While the data on racial disparity in traffic stops is clear, we have very little understanding of its meaning. No one is more interested in a deeper understanding than me, but to make the leap from racial disparity to racial profiling is jumping to a conclusion that is quite premature. My second problem with the ACLU report is their explanation of why Lincoln is in their crosshairs: "...the black population of the area is 3.5%, yet black drivers were 9.6% of the stops."

I'll be explaining my problems with these two assertions in a series of posts on my blog this week, and providing some more thoughts about the issue of racial disparity and racial profiling.

Links to the series:


Monday, September 15, 2014

Somewhat alarming

Any police officer or firefighter knows that we go on a lot of burglar alarms and fire alarms, but that relatively few of those turn out to be actual burglaries or actual fires. Around the country in recent years, cities have worked to reduce the number of false alarms they respond to, and particularly what I call chronic false alarms: places that have many repeats, usually due to faulty equipment or faulty training. I've blogged about these efforts on many occasions in the past.

One of the reasons we have been interested in reducing unnecessary false alarms is to conserve resources, but another important reason (even more so, to me) is safety. Responding to alarms is dangerous. Driving Code 3 (lights and siren) exposes both the responders and the motoring public to heightened risk. A few times every week, I walk by the photos of three Lincoln police officers and at least two firefighters who were killed in traffic crashes during emergency driving. Nationwide, the risk of traffic fatalities is among the biggest threats to police officers and firefighters.

It isn't just the police officers and firefighters who are at heightened risk, either. There has been a lot of concern around the country in recent years about fatal traffic crashes in which emergency vehicles have collided with motorists. I can recall two fatal accidents of this type in Lincoln during my career, although there may we one or more that I'm not recollecting.

Last Wednesday, at Lincoln Fire & Rescue's weekly management staff meeting, our chief officers were discussing this. While this was underway, I used our GIS analytic software, FireView Dashboard, to run a query in our incident data for all calls that were originally dispatched as fire alarms, and the subset that actually turned out to be fires. In the preceding 365 days, we had responded to 1,327 fire alarms. Of those, 16 turned out to be actual fires. Of the actual fires, half were "cooking fires confined to container." Only one of the 16 fires caused any property loss whatsoever, $1,500 damage at a sorority house, when smoke activated a sprinkler head.

On the one hand, any one of those calls originally dispatched as a fire alarm could turn out to be the Real McCoy. On the other hand, we sent a lot of engines and trucks on Code 3 runs knowing that the chances were small:1.2% to be precise. It's a matter of weighing the risk. Is the risk we are trying to mitigate (an incident that has people or property in peril) greater than the risk we are creating by a fire engine and ladder truck running with lights and sirens to the other 98.8%?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Watch and learn

I had a speaking engagement yesterday morning with a business association. One of the topics that came up was the proliferation of panhandlers in Lincoln. The attendees told me stories about annoying and aggressive panhandlers. Some of what they described was completely legal, some illegal.

Illegal panhandling is a difficult offense to prove without a direct witness, and the simple fact of the matter is that arresting offenders for "aggressive panhandling" or other similar violations usually just does not solve the problem. The small fine, coupled with credit for time served, means that in many cases the illegal panhandler is right back out doing the same thing tomorrow.

I have blogged about it for years, spoken about it to the media many times, mentioned it several times on my radio interviews, and talked about it to numerous civic groups and individuals over the years. The message seems not to be sinking in.

The only solution is to convince citizens--whose instincts are entirely pure--not to give money to panhandlers, ever. Give your money to Centerpointe, Friendship Home, St. Monica's, the People's City Mission, Gathering Place, Matt Talbot Kitchen, the Center for People in Need, the Barnabas Project--whatever. But do not give it to a panhandler with a cardboard sign. Ever. 

I urge you to Google the words "panhandler" and "scam". Click the "videos" link. Watch numerous news stories from around the country, and learn that things are not always what they seem. Do not give money to panhandlers. You are enabling, not helping, and often simply being scammed.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Judgement proof

You can't squeeze blood from a turnip. It's an old idiom, which means no matter how hard you try, you cannot realize potential where none exists in the first place. The most common use revolves around money: if someone has none, your efforts to collect on a debt are fruitless.

Last week, the victim of a theft contacted me. The catalytic converter on her son's vehicle had been cut off by thieves in the high school parking lot, in broad daylight. On the same day, several other catalytic converter thefts occurred. Officers alerted the local scrap dealers, and Thursday morning two defendants attempting to sell the stolen converters, were apprehended. They were lodged in jail for felony theft, where they currently repose.

The victim wanted to know if there was any way for her to follow the progress of the case online, because she intended to file a civil suit against the thieves at the conclusion. I provided her with the URL to the County Attorney's criminal case search site, where she will be able to track the upcoming judicial steps through to the final disposition. I also dispensed some advice, telling her that there was a very remote chance she would ever see a dime from these two criminals, both of whom have served two prior prison terms for felony convictions, and have extensive criminal records. Don't get your hopes up.

Here is why it is so unlikely. People who are out cutting catalytic converters off cars on weekday mornings are unlikely to be employed, to own homes, to have savings accounts or investments. Even if you sue and win a judgement--which will cost you money--you will then face the challenge of executing the judgement, which will cost even more money.

When I was Sheriff, and responsible for writs of execution, I occasionally had to break the bad news to a plaintiff that there was simply nothing worth levying against. Bank accounts that can be seized are great. Wages that can be garnished are good, although there several exemptions and also a limit on the amount you can garnish (15% of weekly wages for a head of houshold, 25% otherwise). Personal property, however, is a decidedly mixed bag.

Let's say your defendant owns a nice four year old Ford F150. It's value in the Kelly Blue Book is $11,300. The chances are good that there is a loan against it, and sometimes the loan balance is greater than the value. Even if its not, the loan eats into the equity, and the lender gets first crack at the proceeds. To levy against it, you'll have to pay the sheriff's fees in advance, which includes the statutory fees for serving the process, the cost of the tow and storage for at least 30 days, the cost of advertising for four weeks (required by law) and the cost of the appraisal. These fees will easily add up to a few hundred dollars. You might not break even.

How about the defendant's Naugahyde livingroom set, collection of classic vinyl LPs, fancy hookah, 50-inch LCD TV, $100 acid-washed jeans, and that Coach purse she carries? You'd be surprised how little such stuff is actually worth at a sheriff's sale, Beyond that, the law provides for several exemptions from levy. These include the debtor's immediate personal possessions, his or her wearing apparel, and $1,500 worth of household effects. It also includes "tools of the trade" needed for his or her occupation up to a value of $2,400, which can include one motor vehicle. Finally, there is another $2,500 exemption for personal property of the defendant's choice.

By the time you make it through these exemptions, and pay the sheriff in advance for the cost of moving, storing, appraising, and selling whatever remains, the chances are high that you will be upside down, and victimized yet again. Someone who is completely insolvent, or who has such a small net worth that they are a turnip from which you cannot squeeze blood is known as "judgement proof." I'm afraid that this would describe the vast, vast majority of catalytic converter thieves.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Added Manhattan

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.