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Archive for Monday, May 16, 2011

Police department requests $1.2 million funding increase to create more positions

Lawrence police officer Laurie Scott, center, takes information from Haskell student Joelle Mansfield while investigating a report on a possibly stolen bike that was found locked in front of Tommaney Library Tuesday, April 12, 2011.

Lawrence police officer Laurie Scott, center, takes information from Haskell student Joelle Mansfield while investigating a report on a possibly stolen bike that was found locked in front of Tommaney Library Tuesday, April 12, 2011.

May 16, 2011

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Lawrence police officer Laurie Scott, left, contemplates a situation with fellow officer Andy Tubbs during an investigation of a possible stolen bike that was found locked Tuesday in front of the library on the Haskell Indian Nations University campus.

Lawrence police officer Laurie Scott, left, contemplates a situation with fellow officer Andy Tubbs during an investigation of a possible stolen bike that was found locked Tuesday in front of the library on the Haskell Indian Nations University campus.

Lawrence police officer Laurie Scott enters information after investigating a possible stolen bike that was found Tuesday locked in front of the library on the Haskell Indian Nations University campus. Scott has been with the Lawrence police department for 17 years.

Lawrence police officer Laurie Scott enters information after investigating a possible stolen bike that was found Tuesday locked in front of the library on the Haskell Indian Nations University campus. Scott has been with the Lawrence police department for 17 years.

In the three months since he was tapped to lead the Lawrence Police Department, chief Tarik Khatib has often mentioned one statistic.

In 1999 the department had 79 patrol positions — the same number it is allotted today. The other point he mentions is that Lawrence’s crime rate is higher than that in Overland Park, Olathe and Lenexa in Johnson County and university communities, such as Norman, Okla., and Boulder, Colo.

Khatib said those numbers are keys in a recent request to city leaders for $1.2 million to add 10 patrol officers, a detective and three sergeants. In a memo, Khatib highlighted targeting certain crimes such as fraud and property crimes and repeat offenders who have multiple arrest warrants. A $1.2 million increase in funding — to the department’s approximately $14 million budget — would amount to an increase of 1.4 mills to the city’s property tax rate, or $32 per year more annually for a $200,000 home.

“The bottom line is, I would like to identify a long-term plan for law enforcement in the community,” Khatib said.

The city in the last decade has added certain officers positions through grants and other means, like school and neighborhood resource officers without beefing up regular patrol numbers, city officials said.

Lawrence Mayor Aron Cromwell said commissioners have also asked the department to do more in recent years without adding positions — like a request for officers be assigned to foot patrols downtown. Cromwell said that seems to have paid off for downtown safety, but he acknowledged those officers could also be doing something else.

“If we were to come up with additional resources for any department, I would at this particular point be most interested in looking at putting those toward the police,” Cromwell said.

Comparisons

The new chief, who has spent 19 years as a Lawrence officer, said the department generally gets high marks for its interactions with the public, including 80 percent of respondents to a recent city survey indicating they were satisfied with police services.

But he said that Lawrence officers tend to be busier than ones in comparable cities and that the crime rate is still a major concern.

“We’re not being very effective at reducing crime, but we are good at interacting with people and talking to them,” Khatib said.

By plugging the department’s numbers into a 2009 Benchmark City Survey, all Lawrence officers — including detectives — handled about 400 resident-initiated calls, which was above the average of 337 calls per officer among the 26 other cities that participated. Olathe averaged 264 calls per officer, and 250 for Overland Park. Boulder had a higher average than Lawrence at 455, and Norman was lower with 368.

The 2010 Benchmark City Survey, which will include Lawrence, has not been made public yet. In 2010 Lawrence police officers handled 115,000 total calls, which includes all requests from the public and officer-initiated calls.

Department leaders have said they are playing catch-up with staffing patrol due to attrition and other factors because it takes months to get new officers through training to where they can work on the streets on their own. Right now six patrol officers, who were hired in January, are partnered with an experienced officer in the field, and two others are on temporary military leave. The department is also recruiting to hire a new class this summer.

Workload

Khatib said in a university community officers are kept busy often at all hours, particularly on nights and weekends, for noise complaints and other calls. He said officers helped with 51 special events last year, like traffic control for Kansas University football and basketball games, and they respond to medical calls and traffic accidents on private property, like in parking lots, something that’s not necessarily done in every city.

Khatib often talks about crime prevention through community policing by allowing officers to return to the old “beat cop” approach to interact with residents as a way to exchange information in conversation instead of the duress of a service call.

“But we’re not really staffed appropriately to get ahead of crime. What we need to do is make a choice as to whether we’re going to start to do some of that stuff,” he said. “Or perhaps take a look at what are some things we should probably stop doing?”

Cromwell said the department generally does a good job at responding and focusing on major and violent crimes, but he said with more officers the department could likely address solving other cases, like non-violent crimes.

“It’s just a matter that at a point here we’re going to have to address some of those equipment needs as well as officers,” Cromwell said. “One of the things we’re lacking is in the area of property crimes.”

City commissioners have a budget and goal-setting study session at 3 p.m. Tuesday at city hall.

“I’m pleased with what our police department has been able to do with the resources that they have, but I don’t know that that’s sustainable,” Cromwell said. “And I do think that we need to take a real hard look at putting some additional resources into their hands.”

Comments

xfitter 3 years, 7 months ago

How many more patrols positions do we need, in order to have those officers sit in speed traps? Not to mention the LPD is ALWAYS hiring new officers, ALWAYS!

Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

The cost of growth and more uncontrolled growth. The larger the city becomes the more it cost.

Are people receiving pay increase matching tax increases that taxpayers never get to vote on?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

And don't forget the reckless contribution USD 497 made without voter approval. You know that $20 million sports project known as PLAY.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 7 months ago

Bring out your dead (horses)! Bring out your dead (horses)!

scott3460 3 years, 7 months ago

Do you have a substantive comment, or just empty distraction?

scott3460 3 years, 7 months ago

Of course it is. And so is yours. Complaining that someone has a point of view with which you do not agree is not substance. Disagree on the point he made? Fine explain why. Name calling and complaining doesn't gain you any points in my book.

MarcoPogo 3 years, 7 months ago

"Name calling and complaining doesn't gain you any points in my book."

Then you best save yourself and get out now!

scott3460 3 years, 7 months ago

Of course it is. And so is yours. Complaining that someone has a point of view with which you do not agree is not substance. Disagree on the point he made? Fine explain why. Name calling and complaining doesn't gain you any points in my book.

scott3460 3 years, 7 months ago

No, BAA, the score in my book is not 0-0.

Not by a long shot.

And still waiting, it appears, for one of the fine folks who so love to complain about Merrill's posts to quit their whining and offer a substantive retort.

mistere 3 years, 7 months ago

how many officers does lawrence really need we have ku police, hiway patrol, douglas county sherrifs, kbi, and lpd how many in total how much do we pay 4 that not 2 mention the19 or 23 million on that leaky new jail give us a break and spend money on education in our schools get a grip on what is important

DillonBarnes 3 years, 7 months ago

Police aren't important?

Each of the law enforcement agencies you listed has a specific and different duty within the community, county, and state.

Steve Jacob 3 years, 7 months ago

And those underage drinkers would never get behind the wheel and drive home...

tolawdjk 3 years, 7 months ago

Place a toll on every car entering Lawrence from Shawnee Co. Cut down on crime and raise revenue.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

Do they think that problems can be solved merely by throwing money at them?

Why can't they just follow the funding model expected of public schools?

Don't they know we're broke?

gwossy 3 years, 7 months ago

I would hazard to suggest that a lack of adequate funding is exactly the kind of problem you can fix by throwing money at it.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

Missed the sarcasm there, I suspect.

nativeson 3 years, 7 months ago

The Police Chief may have a point regarding the amount of resource deployed on the street. However, I think it is appropriate to look at the scope of what is being done within the department with resources other than those on the street before asking for more headcount.

I think the SROs at the junior highs and high schools are great. Is that cost in excess of $600K funded by the City and not the school district an investment that can be afforded if the leadership of the department believes they are understaffed on the street? The same applies to neighborhood resource officers.

This article is misleading regarding the funding of these positions. SROs and neighborhood resource officers were initially funded by grants. They are now fully funded out of the police budget with local resources.

I appreciate identifing the places where law enforcement may need more help, but I also believe a top-to-bottom review of how all dollars are being spent is appropriate when asking for such a large amount of funding.

lawrencerulz 3 years, 7 months ago

If I could, I would give the LPD a blank check and tell them to get what they need. The safety of my family is my number one concern and I want a police department that is equipped and staffed to do their jobs.

kbrancac 3 years, 7 months ago

I always find it absurd when we Lawrencians start talking about blocking people from Topeka/ Shawnee county from coming to Lawrence to reduce crime. Do you have any idea of the amount of good people from Topeka (and KC) who literally flood Mass Street and spend their money here in our community, every weekend, every day? I have a friend with a downtown business that says the vast majority of his customers are from Topeka. Not to mention the residents of Topeka/ Shawnee county who send their kids to KU. Get off it, I'm tired of hearing this silliness.

ilovelucy 3 years, 7 months ago

Most of you commenting on this thread have no idea how hard the majority of the police officers work, or what is expected of them. Might I suggest that you enroll in the audit class that allows you to observe and ride along with the police force? Maybe you'd learn something.

Food_for_Thought 3 years, 7 months ago

You're right; before Sevier's death, LPD had a 100% approval rating with its citizens. That incident alone changed EVERYTHING.

Oh yeah, and all LPD cops are wife-beaters.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm concerned that the chief thinks the police department is "not being very effective at reducing crime".

That's what I want that department to be doing, as much as possible.

Will more funding and a few more positions improve that? If so, I'm all for it. But, he didn't say it would.

Food_for_Thought 3 years, 7 months ago

I doubt police officers have changed what they're doing. The city is growing and its population changing. I think what they're getting at is LPD is trying to fight/prevent crime with the same number of officers as it was roughly 10 years ago.

In order to prevent most crimes, you need more officer presence. Can't do that with fewer officers, especially when those few are busy responding to other calls.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

Then they should say that in a straightforward way.

Instead there's a lot of stuff about discussion of long-term strategy, etc. which makes me think there's something more going on.

If there's only a need for more money, why do we need administration at all?

There must be decisions that are being made all of the time.

jonas_opines 3 years, 7 months ago

This will just lead to more mismanagement. The police force should be privatized. At the very least, we should be provided vouchers so that we can opt out for private security.

kansasredlegs 3 years, 7 months ago

George: Could you call Chief Khatib and ask him if the department still has any of "our" officers working with any regional federal task forces? If so, Lawrence Citizens are paying them to work elsewhere. So, instead of hiring new ones, let's just bring our guys and gals home to work for the citizens who are paying them. Just saying

pace 3 years, 7 months ago

maybe with the money they can change the recordings,' on report a theft,= " Thank you for reporting the theft, do not expect anything, we don't do anything on theft because he it is hard and it is not important to us. If we do accidentally fall over the stuff you lost we will keep it, pawn it, or sell it at our auction. It is our choice," Door to door criminal =, " Thank you for calling about an unlicensed door to door solicitor. We don't care. Oh yes , the community worked hard to pass a law thirty years ago to require salespersons to have a licensee, a background check and photo id. At that time and for ever since, we have resented the community for trying to bother us about their door to door salespersons and have lied that such a law exists and when faced explained we don't have to do a thing about enforcing it. Get a gun, but don't use it in town or for self defense." Police complaints+ "hank you for calling but you are not calling and there are very few complaints, the few investigated we might of looked at , we, have found to be without merit but always speedily handled. Your call has been investigated and you will be happy to know we found nothing to investigate and you name has been added to the list of usual suspects." I know I am being snarky to many brave and fine people who have done good service. The above problems are mostly problems of policies that convert down to conversations between the community and the police. I support the police but think if the police and the courts took theft more seriously, we would have less crime. young punks stealing grow up to be armed felons. Before we pour money into the one way door. I want to see some of the effective less costly methods applied, methods that involve the community and the police working together. There are a lot of them being tried and found successful in other communities. I think a citizen's review board would do more than deal with citizen's complaints, it would foster ways for the police and the community to work together and to communicate better. The current old isolated system is dangerous in a lot of ways.

eotw33 3 years, 7 months ago

Or....we could just send people jail instead of putting everyone on probation, I bet that would work too

Dan Blomgren 3 years, 7 months ago

14 new positions at a cost of $1.2 million. $86k a year per employee. Last Saturday I drove by the church at Harvard and Wakarusa and noticed a patrol car sitting in the rear of the parking lot. Over an hour later (almost 2hrs actually) I drove by and the same cop was still sitting there. This time though he had another patrol car pulled up sideways so they could talk. Drove by 30 minutes later and they were both still there. $170K in salaries sitting there having a nice chat. Now maybe they were doing police work, but I would have to guess there's not that much crime committed at Harvard and Wakarusa on a Saturday morning between 8:00 am and 11:00 am. And we need more cops? Not from my point of view!

Food_for_Thought 3 years, 7 months ago

Cops have to sit somewhere to type up the reports they've taken earlier in the day, right? Also, is it possible the cop responded to a call between the time you last saw them and the time you saw them again? Are you sure it was the same car? Also keep in mind that crime doesn't happen at a consistent pace. It's not like it's an "assembly line" job. Look at firefighters. How often are they sitting around? We still need them though, when it DOES hit the fan.

timeforachange 3 years, 7 months ago

Totally agree with Penny above. Do the cops think they are invisible while they sit and chat with fellow officers for hours? Do they not realize that every car that drives by is driven by someone who pays their salary? Hey Khatib I have an idea for you: Train the officers you have now! Most of us have cameras on our phones now, so expect time dated photos coming your way illustrating the 'relax' attitude of the police force. Stop asking for more. Do like the rest of us and get by with less. Expect more of your men. Expect more of yourself.

Tara Painter 3 years, 7 months ago

No, put that money into better use... like our schools!

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