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Archive for Friday, October 29, 2010

Police audit

City officials should consider new ways to measure the performance of the Lawrence Police Department.

October 29, 2010

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During the transition to a new permanent chief for the Lawrence Police Department is an ideal time for city officials to consider some of the oversight issues outlined this week by the city’s auditor.

A report presented to Lawrence city commissioners by City Auditor Mike Eglinski focused on a number of ways the city can monitor and measure the performance of its police department. Eglinski gave top priority to three areas: how city managers measure and report on the department’s performance, how the police department handles complaints and how city leaders manage the police department’s workload.

He called special attention to how police department performance is measured. Although the city paid a consultant $60,000 in 2005 to develop a list of measurable goals for the police department, Eglinski said most of the recommendations of the report have not been implemented. Eglinski added that Lawrence doesn’t have any method for comparing the performance of its police department to similar departments in other cities or even national averages.

City commissioners concluded at their Tuesday meeting that they wanted more time to decide whether to have Eglinski do additional audit work on possible performance measures for the department. That decision will come by the end of the year, when commissioners approve audit topics for 2011.

We think a further audit of police department issues should be on the list. The deficiencies cited in Eglinski’s report should be of concern to city commissioners and administrators. When things are going smoothly, and particularly when the leadership of the department is stable, as it was for 23 years under former Police Chief Ron Olin, it is easy for city officials to keep their distance and let the department pretty much run itself.

However, ultimately, city commissioners and administrators are responsible for how the Lawrence Police Department operates and how it serves the people of Lawrence. It’s important that city officials provide reasonable oversight to make sure they are satisfied with the job the department is doing.

City Manager David Corliss has said he hopes to hire a new permanent police chief by the end of the year. Some of the concerns cited in the preliminary police audit are well worth pursuing, and now, as the police department transitions to new leadership, is the perfect time to do that.

Comments

distant_voice 3 years, 5 months ago

While still a resident of Lawrence, I've spent the last 3 years working in Canada and one huge difference I notice about Canadian police than American police is that there's not a policeman sitting behind every billboard and around every corner waiting to give a traffic ticket to otherwise law abiding citizens doing 7 mph over the speed limit. Instead, Canadians use their police force to crack down on real crime. Think how much taxpayer money would be saved and how much more effective our police would be if they had more resources focused on real crime instead of trying to trap regular citizens slightly exceeding speed limits going to and from work. The result? People drive faster in Canada, typically exceeding the speed limit by 25 kph ( about 15 mph on the highway). In return, their actual crime rate is less than half that of equivalently sized US cities and towns

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equalaccessprivacy 3 years, 5 months ago

The KU cops need a Citizen's Review Board too. Dishonest campus officials working hand-in-hand with conflict-of-interest KU cops should not be able to so easily get false and vindictive charges all the way to the DAs' desks no questioned asked. The DAs and even the judges are all fairly corrupt southern-justice minded products of KU too, very adverse to the honest omission of error. It is obviously highly unconstitutional to ban not-guilty defendants from the state of KS as a condition of avoiding trial, but that is the medieval level of dishonest and incompetent law enforcement that goes on in the sophisticated jurisdiction of Douglas County.

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pace 3 years, 5 months ago

Citizens review board would make the community safer and the police more effective. It is time.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 5 months ago

Neighborhoods have been pushing for better ways and more transparency going on several years now. City commissioners have consistently been reluctant.

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smitty 3 years, 5 months ago

When things are going smoothly, and particularly when the leadership of the department is stable, as it was for 23 years under former Police Chief Ron Olin, it is easy for city officials to keep their distance and let the department pretty much run itself.

The concerns that prompted this non-audit is due to the 23 years of Olin's stability. Remember...this is an ideal time for city officials to consider some of the oversight issues....

A Citizens Review Board complete with investigative and subpoena powers will solve the city commissions dilemma. Commissioners will no longer need to handle outside investigations of our police chief and department by a higher legal authority as a personnel issue through the city manager's office.

The citizens of Lawrence need to assist their city government by changing the dynamics of local politics.

(editorial comment)How did you do that...speak out of more than one orifice at the same time, that is?

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