Mayor Don Wesely today released his proposed crime package to improve public safety in the City. The package includes three new City ordinances:
“One of the major factors in our high quality of life is the low crime rate in our City, and keeping our community safe is a priority,” said Mayor Wesely. “As we begin our Hometown Security Study of Lincoln’s public safety needs, we must also make sure we have the best laws on the books to help police officers do their jobs.”
The new ordinance on pawning property is intended to make it more difficult for criminals to obtain fast cash by disposing of stolen property. Pawn shop owners are not required to check criminal records but it would be unlawful for them to knowingly accept property from convicted thieves. The new ordinance prohibiting the storage of firearms in vehicles is intended to decrease the opportunity that criminals will obtain stolen guns.
Wesely said these new ordinances will make it more difficult for repeatedly convicted thieves to pawn stolen property. “I want to make it harder to profit from stealing and reduce the number of burglaries,” Wesely said. “Similarly, the ordinance prohibiting the storage of a gun in a car is an attempt to reduce the theft of guns from cars,” said Wesely. “This is a safety issue and it only makes sense to store weapons in a secure place, not a vehicle.”
“Last year in Lincoln, we had more than 4,600 vehicle break-ins, accounting for well over $1 million in property loss and damage,” said Police Chief Tom Casady. “The loss from burglary in Lincoln is even greater, with close to 2,000 burglaries in the City in 2002. We believe many of these crimes are committed by people seeking money for drug and gambling habits.”
Chief Casady said that over the past five years, Lincoln police officers have investigated more than 1,200 gun-related incidents, including 11 murders with guns, 7 assaults on officers with guns, 256 robberies with guns, and 275 assaults with guns.
Casady said the proposed ordinance on firearm possession is needed because many people with serious criminal records are able to lawfully possess guns because they have never been convicted of a felony. The new ordinance would outlaw possession of a firearm in the City limits by persons convicted within the last ten years of any of the following misdemeanors:
“These misdemeanors are serious crimes and I believe that the community would agree a person convicted of crimes like stalking, impersonating a police officer or violating a protection order should not be allowed to possess a gun in the City,” Wesely said.
Mayor Wesely said that in addition to the three ordinance changes, local officials would continue to work with retailers on a voluntary basis to stop the sale of large quantities of the materials use to make methamphetamine. The number of meth labs in Lincoln has roughly doubled each year for the past three years.