Police chief discusses solutions to liquor problems in Lincoln

March 11, 2010

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Tom Casady

Lincoln, Neb., police chief Tom Casady will take your questions about Lincoln's successful community-wide approach to addressing problems of binge and other high-risk drinking. Casady has been one of the leading forces behind the community's plan and has seen his work pay off during the last decade.

Tom Casady:

Good morning everyone. I'm chatting from the ballroom of a Ramada Inn conference center in Kearney, NE right now, while listening with one ear to a speaker at a conference. Multitasking is a key skill in my job!

Moderator:

Good morning, I'm Jesse Fray, reporter for 6News and The Lawrence Journal-World. I'll be moderating today's chat.

We welcome Lincoln, Neb. police chief Tom Casady. Thanks for taking some time out of your morning to be with us.

If you have a question for Chief Casady, regarding his community's approach to battling high-risk drinking, you're encouraged to send it right away.

Have you made it online, chief?

Moderator:

Ah, I see you beat me. Great! Let's get started...

kong:

Thanks for taking the time to meet with us today, Chief Casady! How does the Lincoln Police Department monitors the usage of fake IDs? I've heard that most UNL students don't have a fake ID because they don't need a fake ID. What are your thoughts?

Tom Casady:

Alright lurkers, either fire me a comment or question, or tell me what you think about the Big 12 Tourny.

Moderator:

Chief, you'll need to hit refresh on your browser to see the latest questions.

Tom Casady:

kong,

Nebraska implemented a new DL about 5 years ago, and we went overnight from having the oldest/easiest to fake DL, to the newest and hardest. It's helped a lot. Our bars deal primarily with fakes from other states now. We do training, of course, for bouncers and staff, and we require all managers to attend training by law. I think we have a very small problem with underage drinking in licensed establishments, and that's also what our data show. Now, other underage sources--adult providers, shoulder taps, beer burglaries, that's another matter...

Moderator:

Some have said if you’re focused on solving the problems of high-risk drinking in the community, there must be other problems that aren’t being focused on. What’s your response?

Tom Casady:

we do some of the typical stuff, too, cops-in-shops, stings, and so forth. Grocery stores, mini-marts, restaurants in the 'burbs have their occasional problems. I think because the downtown young-drinker/bad bathroom bars deal with it so much, and are (potentially) so vulnerable to attempts, that they do a really good job.

Moderator:

Are other crimes in the community being ignored, because of these efforts?

Tom Casady:

Jesse, high-risk drinking is a huge contributor to other crimes. Any police officer anywhere in the U.S. can tell you that after about 10:00 at night, most of what we do revolves around the giddy and inebriated. If you can reduce illegal and high-risk drinking, you will impact assaults, domestic violence, rape, robbery, and other crime.

kong:

With the relatively lax liquor laws 45 minutes east (Missouri), what strategic steps can we (Lawrence) take to decrease toxic drinking behavior? And, how can we create a program that "sticks?"

Tom Casady:

I suppose the best evidence would be our crime rate, which hovers in the bottom third of cities within 50K of our population, and has fallen like a rock since the peak year of 1991.

Tom Casady:

kong,
long-term and consistent are keys, IMHO. Create a greater sense that the laws will be enforced, and that consequences will follow illegal behavior. At the same time, work on expanding way beyond just enforcement: retail marketing practices, redefining the expectations of entering freshmen, getting the Greeks back to their real roots--academic excellence and leadership development, and on and on. The broad based approach over a good period of years is what I think has the most potential to change the environment and the social norms on binge drinkin.

Tom Casady:

..or binge drinkinG !!

Moderator:

Regarding the “price war” among the bars on O Street, one person questions why the city thinks it can ‘dictate’ to private businesses what they should charge. Is this what Lincoln city leaders are doing?

Tom Casady:

By the way, I'm not declaring victory at all. I think Jesse's articles have painted Lincoln as a bit more successful at this than we really are. We've essentially gone from being very bad to being average bad. It's good progress, but believe me--we have plenty of problems, and sometimes I feel like we are swimming upstream against a strong tide! (is that a mixed metaphor of rivers and oceans?)

Tom Casady:

Don't think we can 'dictate' price. I think we can provide our advice, that if you're selling fifty cent draws or dollar shots, you shouldn't be surprised that you are going to attract the risky drinkers who end up being served while intoxicated, and your bartender ends up with a court date, while you manager ends up with an appointment at the liquor commission.

Moderator:

Thanks for your honesty about the stories. It was apparent from my visit there that things are different there -- a higher police presence in the bar areas, no drinking in the Greek houses, fines for tenants who have wild house parties.

Moderator:

One commenter has questioned whether you have a problem with hit-and-run accidents in Lincoln?

Tom Casady:

In the past 35 years, I've seen a lot of bars fail on the business model of selling drinks below cost, and trying to make it up on volume!

If I could wave the magic wand, I'd like to see a drinking environment in Lincoln where more bars sellling $3.50 microbrews, with young people who are spending their $10 of disposable fundage on three good beers, instead of ten dollar shots of crummy flavored rum.

Tom Casady:

Maybe I just don't see the differences as much because I haven't been to Lawrence in so long!

Sure, plenty of hit & runs here--mostly on private lots, of course. I think that's true everywhere. Let's see, 2,337 hit & runs in Lincoln in 2009, compared to 7,887 overall. Don't have any sense how that would compare to any other place.

Tom Casady:

Wow, by the way, I even impressed myself grabbing that data under pressure!

Moderator:

We're going to go ahead and wrap up this chat. Thanks for joining us, chief … It looks like we have some basketball to watch. Regarding the Big 12 Tournament, it looks like we could see you tomorrow night. Before we leave, are you a bigger fan of Kansas or Texas Tech?

Tom Casady:

Basketball? Really? Thanks for hosting, good luck!

over and out.

Comments

Bladerunner 5 years, 1 month ago

I love how he ended it. Not everybody's life revolves around sports.

beawolf 5 years, 1 month ago

If you were from Lincoln, you wouldn't be interested in basketball either.

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