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January 27, 2003
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Mark Bowen, Mayor’s Office, 441-7511

Mayor Names Hometown Security Study Committee

Mayor Don Wesely today named a new Hometown Security Study Committee to examine the City’s public safety services, including the Police and Fire Departments and 911 Center. Mayor Wesely and the City Council worked together to form the 15-member committee to be chaired by Stan Heng, former Adjutant General of Nebraska who served in the Nebraska National Guard for 45 years before retiring.

"We are very pleased to have someone of General Heng’s experience to chair this important committee," said Mayor Wesely. "It is essential to make sure that as the City grows, our public safety services continue to keep our citizens safe."

"I am pleased to serve the community in this capacity," said General Heng. "It is an innovative approach to involve citizens by creating this committee. This model of involvement could be used all over the country."

Representing the public on the committee are Carol Brown, Jeff Fortenberry, Jim Geist, Craig Madsen, Don Marti and Oscar Rios Pohirieth (brief biographies follow this release). The Lincoln City Council will be represented by Annette McRoy and Ken Svoboda. Commissioner Larry Hudkins will represent the Lancaster County Board. Major Guy F. Moon will represent the National Guard. City and County officials on the committee are Police Chief Tom Casady, Fire Chief Mike Spadt, 911 Services Director Julie Righter, Health Director Bruce Dart and Emergency Services Manager Doug Ahlberg.

The committee is charged with determining the public safety needs in Lincoln, the options to deal with those needs and the best financial plan for the City to address the issue.

Wesely said the growth of the City has stretched the resources of the Police and Fire Departments and the 911 Center to protect the city. Since 1990, the City has grown by almost 16 square miles and more than 34,000 new residents. Using the national standard of 1.5 public safety employees for every 1,000 people, both the Police and Fire Departments fall short. Currently the Police Department has about 1.3 employees for every 1,000 citizens, and the Fire Department has about 1.1 employees for every 1,000 citizens.

The Police Department has identified the need for about 36 additional officers. The Fire Department has projected that to respond to the growth of the City, two additional fire stations would provide adequate City coverage for about the next eight to ten years. The two new fire stations would add 42 to 55 additional fire fighters. In addition, the 911 Center has identified the need to add one full-time dispatcher work station. To staff one additional work station on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week basis requires hiring five additional 911 operators. In total, the departments have identified a need for 83 to 96 additional full-time public safety employees.

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