Posted on Feb 07, 2020
On February 7, 2020 we were honored to have Chief of Police Jeff Bliemeister at our meeting to talk about Crime Trends in Lincoln,

Chief Bliemeister started his presentation by talking about the privacy settings on our smartphones. This is a simple example of how movements are tracked every day all day long. They are a very important public safety tool and the police have access to a great deal of information.

The focus of his presentation was crime trends in Lincoln.

When he surveyed the room there were varying opinions about the level of crime in Lincoln.
- - Some thought crime was down
- - Some thought crime was up
- - Some thought there probably wasn't much change but we are just hearing about more because we have more means to hear news

The facts are that crime in Lincoln overall is down. However, Violent crime is up. Violent crime includes murder, robbery, rape and aggravated assault.

Compared to Omaha, Lincoln is still a very safe place with low crime. There is probably 40% to 50% more crime in Omaha. Looking at the demographics of the cities, Omaha has many high poverty areas. There are some in Lincoln but not to the degree that Omaha has. The gang presence in Omaha is also much higher than in Lincoln.

In Lincoln last year there were 1089 violent crimes. Over 600 of those were aggravated assault.

Chief stated that 4 of the 5 murders last year were drug-related. They involved individuals tied to the use and distribution of drugs - primarily marijuana. In most cases it had to do with the profitability of dealing in drugs.

Of the crimes investigated in Lincoln last year, 300 were sexual assault (compared to 100 in 2000). Chief Bliemeister believes it is a direct result of the Me Too Movement because many of the cases were over a year old. He said that there may never be an arrest in those cases but the reports and investigations are aiding in the healing process.

While discussing the number and types of calls, the Chief stated that there was an increasing trend of calls about mental illness issues. Sometimes the needs is outside of the expertise of the police department. There is a strong partnership with the mental health services in Lincoln - the Mental Health Association of Nebraska, CenterPointe and the Bridge to name a few. He also pointed out that the Bryan health system has made a commitment to tackle the mental health of the community and, without that, the police could not do as much as they are doing.

126,000 - that is the number of service calls that the Lincoln Police Department had last year. About 1/4 of those were crimes.

Missing person calls take a lot of time. There were 2200 investigations last year. Though going missing is not a crime, it does indicate a potential problem as those individuals are not making wise choices. They will likely be (or are) involved in other dangerous or illegal activities. One individual ran away from home 37 times last year - any where from a couple of hours to weeks.

There are 500 employees at the Lincoln Police Department, 353 of those are law enforcement officers. He said that the current and previous mayor have been committed to ensure that we have a good number of officers available. One matrix is that there should be 1.22 officers per 1000 in population.

There are staffing challenges. It is hard to find people willing to take on this type of work. And, those that do, often don't make it through - it is rigorous - including the polygraph which gets into very deep, personal issues. Many people are not willing to open up to that degree. But, it is important to the hiring process to ensure they have individuals who are healthy both physically and mentally.

When asked about "the downtown bar scene" he stated that there is a 2 mile radius around 14th & O, about 2:00 AM with the highest rate. However, he said it is trending down. For one thing, some of the activity had shifted to The Haymarket Area. The other significant change is the ride share programs - people can get out of the area quickly and safely.

Chief Bliemiester stated that part of the culture of the Lincoln Police Department is to build relationships in the community - especially with those that are underserved. They work hard to build trust. When they are meeting foreign individuals they assure them that they don't care if they are here legally - that is not their concern.