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Archive for Sunday, September 20, 1998

250 MEN AND WOMEN FOCUS ON PUBLIC SAFETY

September 20, 1998

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Lawrence public safety agencies employee 118 police officers and 130 firefighters and paramedics.

When it comes to police, and fire and ambulance services in Lawrence, the city has two of the finest departments in the region, its members say.

The Lawrence Police Department, which has 118 officers, protects and serves the community 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The department has jurisdiction within the city limits and on the Kansas University campus.

It also may be called in to assist the Douglas County sheriff's office, Kansas Highway Patrol and other agencies.

Police Sgt. George Wheeler, a 20-year veteran of the department, said one of its strengths is its involvement with the community.

``We're very active within the community,'' he said. ``We have foot patrols and bicycle patrols -- we try to get officers out of the cars talking to people as much as we can.''

Wheeler added that the department prides itself on its motto, ``How we get the job done is as important as getting the job done.''

He said most Law-rence police officers have taken at least some college hours and many are college graduates, giving the department a standard of professionalism.

``I think were probably the best department in the Midwest,'' he said.

In addition, he said LPD's close working relationship with other law enforcement agencies is a plus.

``We've worked very closely with the sheriff's department, KU police department, and we share information and re-sources with both of those agencies and they share it with us.

``I think we have a real good cooperative ap-proach.''

Lawrence's two other public services, fire fighting and ambulances, are combined into Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical.

There are 130 firefighters and paramedics in the agency. They respond to everything from possible heart attacks to arcing electrical wires.

Chief Jim McSwain said the department is one of the best in the area because of its people.

``I think it's because of the people and the support we get from the community,'' he said.

``I think with the merger we've developed one of the best fire and medical departments in the state.''

The departments operated separately before Jan. 1, 1997.

``I think the advantage of having a merged department is having more people available to respond for medical emergencies and fires,'' McSwain said.

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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