Grand Island Police are taking a closer look at how a yearof change within the department is shifting crime rates and helping thecommunity.
GI had a big public safety study done in 2012, and since then Police ChiefSteve Lamken says they've been working on a four-year implementation plan thatsets targets and goals for the force.
They're barely a year into that plan, but with what he calls a "large communityinvestment" in hiring more officers, Lamken put together a report highlightingtheir progress in 2013.
Getting more officers out the door and into the community continues to be apriority goal for GIPD.
"Take a city of 50,000 and you add another 100,000 people coming in a day, itspreads your resources pretty thin," says Sgt. Bud Edwards.
Lamken says bringing on new patrol officers, community service officers, andstaff; jumpstarting their Crime Prevention Unit; and striving for morecommunity involvement are all things they've been doing since they setstandards and goals based off that public safety study.
"This isn't just some study sitting on the shelf, we're working hard," he says.
Lamken says a move toward "intelligence-based" policing with a Crime Analystand better report tracking software is changing how they attack vandalism oraccident sprees.
"Here's what's going on, here's where our crimes are occurring, here's the timeof day they're occurring, here's the pattern or the M.O. of the occurrences,"says Lamken.
"For instance, residential burglaries were up, so we could shift the manpowerand target that, and had quite a bit of success actually," says Edwards.
The numbers show GIPD is below their target goal for violent crimes in 2013 –131 reported with a goal of 133.
"We take some credit for reduction in violent crime, we'vedone a lot of things to impact violent crime, we had some programs in placewhen [the public safety study] came in and we're continuing those, and we feelwe've had some very good impact in violent crime," says Lamken.
But the city saw a jump in things like burglaries. Lamken says while they're making arrests andclosing cases, that property crime boost can make neighborhoods feel unsafe.
"It seems we still have a lot of crime, so it's a criminal justice-wide system,we need that support throughout the system to hold offenders accountable," hesays.
Hall County Attorney Mark Young says "offender accountability" takes on aslightly different meaning in the courts where conviction and sentencing arethe standards. But he believes positivepolice work will influence change there too.
"The more investigation, the better reports we receive, the better outcomes wecan get in the courtroom," says Young.
Lamken's message to Grand Islanders is to keep working with them – whether that'sreporting suspicious activity, or taking extra care in locking up the house andcar.
"You've given us a lot more resources, and we are working to use those wiselyand give you a good return on them," he says.
Besides decreasing crimes and accidents, Lamken says they're focusing on codeenforcement too. He calls it the "brokenwindow theory" – that abandoned cars or trashed houses can degradeneighborhoods and attract crime.
All of these changes are part of a four-year plan, and police say while there'sa lot more to be done, they're ready to keep working.