10/15 1100hrs UPDATE: Since I originally posted this I have learned that there is more to this story than what was said in the letter by Ms. Collins. (ed.. I indicated there was probably much more in the first paragraph) No one seems to want to talk about it or explain what that more is. Since this block party has been an annual event for several years and the organizers had a permit from the city to hold it, I still maintain that the situational evaluation was not handled in away that reflects well on the Department. This was a gathering of long time friends families and neighbors with children and grandchildren out for an enjoyable evening. This was not a "drunken bikers rally", "a drug bust" or "an unorganized, unpermitted protest march". Doesn't Community Relations mean anything anymore? As/if I am able to find out more I WILL post it here, no matter what that more is. END UPDATE
I probably should have waited until I am not so seething mad to write about this, it's my blog, I don't have to and I simply don't want to. True I don't know the whole story and have no idea how much more there is to it, but that is not the point. The point is, and I'm not going to mince words, some overzelous Lincoln Police Officer went off the deep end. (Gee..like that hasn't happened before)
This event occurred while I was out of town so there may have been something in the "printed on real paper edition" of the Lincoln Journal Star, I didn't find anything in a quick search of the on-line edtion archives. This acticle unfolds from a letter to the editor that appeared in todays Journal Star, and was written by someone that was at the block party in question.
For several years running the residents of Harwood Street between the 18th to 20th cross streets have had an annual block party. And yes horror, of horrors the law abiding organizers have even secured the proper city permits.
This years friendly neighborhood gathering took place on September 25th and started at 4:00PM with games for all the kids and grandkids. By six the hotdogs and burgers are done and served with the wide array of side dishes provided by the residents. For the third year in a row the Rock'n roll band started playing promptly at seven.
Food, families, fun, neighbors all out and getting along peacefully ....... OH no this can't be... Oh No not in Chief Tom Casady's Lincoln, Nebraska .... How could we have let this go on for so long?
Oh boy now their in for it.. 8:30PM almost right on schedule, Barney Fife shows up in a Lincoln Police Officers Uniform. (ed...well it would be Barney Fife if this wasn't so serious) Officer Rambo gets out of his car calls for back-up and then charges the band stand. Without so much as a, "Who gave you people permission to use my city streets to have a good time?" This badge heavy Lincoln Cop tells the band if they play another note, "They will be arrested for disturbing the peace."
The residents of this community were dumbfounded at the rude confrontational behavior exhibited by this Jack Booted thug with a badge and a gun.
There are alot of questions unanswered in this womans letter, such as did someone make a complaint, was the music too loud etc.. NONE OF THAT MATTERS THOUGH.
What matters is that they had a permit. What matters is the city approved that permit. What matters is that ALL of the Officers on duty that night should have been informed that the function had a permit and it was a legally sanctioned event. What matters is that the Officers should have had the names of the responsible parties in the event of a problem. What matters is if there was a genuine complaint the responding officer should have contacted the responsible parties before going on a tirade that is reminicent of the FBI siege at Ruby Ridge.
But no, Officer Rambo, unlike cops who in past years stopped by for a hot dog and cheezy taters, No this Over blown dictator with a gun has to barge right into the middle of a peaceful permitted block party and start throwing his badge around.
I find it abhorent that a paid servant of the people could commit such agregious and threating actions toward peaceable citizens having a neighborhood get together on a weekend evening. There are just too many other ways this could have been handled. But then this is typical of the men under Chief of Police Tom Casady.
The author of this letter to the editor poses the questions; Is this behavior normal and is this normal police procedure?
Yes it is Ms. Collins, in Lincoln, Nebraska, the answer to both questions is YES IT IS. I can cite instance after instance where these kinds of things or similar occur with regular frequency in the Capital City. This is not just a lone incident, I have been around more than a few of the local cops that espouse that kind of behavior and/or mentality. Last Friday evening, a city police officer told me that people in Lincoln do not have the right to defend themselves if they did or tried to they would share the same jail cell as their attacker, or at least be cited, as it wasn't his job to sort that crap out that is what judges are for. (ed... Yes I really was told that)
The sad part is the city of Lincoln has a written plan in place for events such as this or the "binge parties" that college towns are notoriously noted for. Was this plan followed? If I read it correctly there ain't no way in east Lincoln it could have been.
So the question is do we have a case of one out of line officer or do we have a department where a blind eye is turned by the administration led by one Tom Casady? As more time goes by and as I here about more incidents like this I sadly must admit, as a former officer myself, that it is the latter.
Now on a personal note to the Officer involved; I realy hope you are proud of yourself. This was not a "biker rally" or a college "binge party" that you raided in classic drug bust fashion. This was a gathering of Parents and Grand parents with their children and grandchildren having a peaceful evening with friends and neighbors that you took a sworn oath to protect and serve. How many of the children at that block party now have a very real fear of police officers? Because of your actions is that fear justified? YOUR DAMNED RIGHT IT IS! But don't let that keep you up at night, I'm sure you were "Just following orders/procedure. (ed ...oh wait where have I heard that one before... oh yea Neurumburg) I guess it would be to much to ask you as an adult to actually think for yourself for once instead of blindly persuing policy. If your fellow officers have any doubt as to why the Lincoln police department is held in such low regard and why there just doesn't seem to be any public support for the needs of the department they only have to look across the locker room at YOU and officers like you.