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2020 Media Releases


Date:
June 30, 2020
Media Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, City Communications, 402-525-1520

Mayor and Police Chief Announce Local Strategies to Improve Justice and Equity

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird today announced specific steps the City of Lincoln is taking to address recent calls for justice and to reaffirm the commitment of the City and the Lincoln Police Department (LPD) to building a more equitable and inclusive society. She said the policies, practices, and programs are designed to foster trust and community and to lead to more equitable outcomes for every resident.

"The steps we outline today are part of a long-term, ongoing effort to address inequities - in health, economic well-being, criminal justice, and many other facets of society - that have plagued America for generations," Mayor Gaylor Baird said. "We are fortunate that our police department already embraces and operates under many of the policies and practices that our residents are asking us to contemplate, and that LPD is open to implementing changes that enhance their ability to ensure greater safety for all residents."

The Mayor said the strategies she announced are based on local input gathered through hours of community conversations and listening sessions and hundreds of emails and phone calls, and are informed by national standards and best practices. The steps are organized around five topic areas: policy, accountability, transparency, community partnerships, and cultural change.

Policy:

LPD is conducting a mid-year expedited review of its policy on use of force to respond to recent concerns and to strengthen existing policies and expectations. The following proposed revisions to the policy would make current policy more explicit and codify LPD's current best practices:

The proposed revisions can be found at police.lincoln.ne.gov at the Department Policies link. The public may comment on the proposed revisions by emailing the Citizen Police Advisory Board (CPAB) at cpab@lincoln.ne.gov through July 15. The CPAB will review the proposed revisions at its meeting Wednesday, July 22 and issue a report with recommended policy changes no later than August 21, with changes finalized by September 30.

LPD is reviewing its protocols for mass demonstrations in order to update the training and protocols for facilitating peaceful protests. Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister said LPD has completed its initial debrief with the law enforcement officers involved in the events of May 29 through June 1, is creating timelines of events, and comparing investigative reports with a large amount of video. Bliemeister said the information will be presented to the Mayor and the City Council once the incident review is complete.

The Mayor announced that those who were arrested for curfew violations during the recent protests may apply for a pardon. This is consistent with law and public policy that permit anyone convicted of a violation of City Code to apply for a pardon. To make the process more transparent, accessible, and equitable, the pardon application has been revised and is available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: pardon). In six months, the Mayor will review pardon applications related to the curfew violations. Pardon determinations are not a foregone conclusion and will be made on an individualized, case-by-case basis, consistent with current policy. Pardons will not be granted to anyone who engaged in acts of violence, destruction, or physical aggression.

Accountability:

The Citizen Police Advisory Board is a seven-member body of residents appointed by the Mayor. It was established in 1976 to review complaints regarding police procedures and policies and make recommendations to the Mayor, City Council, and Police Chief. The following draft revisions to the ordinance governing the board will be presented to the City Council in July:

LPD will continue to participate in the Hold Cops Accountable initiative led by the Malone Center. This community-led initiative gives residents an opportunity to publicly share their comments on police-community relations.

Since 1993, LPD has used quality service audits developed in partnership with Gallup to poll individuals who were victims of non-violent crimes, involved in a traffic collision, or issued a citation. The 2019 results can be found at police.lincoln.ne.gov (search for QSA). LPD also participates in the city's regular resident satisfaction surveys conducted by the UNL Public Policy Center, and future surveys will continue to evaluate the public's trust and confidence in the police.

Transparency:

The Mayor's proposed budget for 2020-2021 includes funding for the complete implementation of body-worn cameras for every officer. LPD policies address the circumstances in which body-worn cameras must be used and how long the video must be retained. Those are available at police.lincoln.ne.gov at the Department Policies link. The policies also require that supervisors proactively review their officers' body-worn camera video for training and quality assurance.

On the city's open data portal at opendata.lincoln.ne.gov, LPD provides policing data broken down by race, ethnicity, and other categories. They also share data on their own website and through the Nebraska Crime Commission. LPD plans to publish more visually accessible versions of their data on topics such as citations and arrests, traffic stops, missing persons investigations, crime trends, and trends in mental health calls.

Community Partnerships:

As part of its community policing model, LPD develops relationships with nonprofit social service providers to help officers respond to residents with a wide variety of needs, including substance abuse and mental health issues. LPD has increased its investment for its partnerships with the Bridge Behavioral Health and the Mental Health Association of Nebraska in its proposed budget for 2020-2021.

Cultural Change:

Recognizing that disparities in policing are a symptom, not the root cause, of racial injustice, the Mayor said the city is committed to long-term efforts to create a more just and equitable community, including the following:

"We are fortunate to live in a city where so many are reaching across divides to realize the vision of a community where people of every race feel a true sense of belonging," Mayor Gaylor Baird said. "Everyone has a part to play in this work. We create transformed, inclusive new realities by becoming transformed, inclusive people. This is about the resident as well as the public servant, the private as well as the public sector. It means me, it means our government and our police department, and it means you. Together, we will create a better future in Lincoln."


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