[August 15, 2013]Tuesday evening, Lincoln
aldermen and city officials took a tour of the Lincoln police
station. The purpose of the tour was to give Chief Ken Greenslate
and his staff an opportunity to talk about why they need a better
space for their department. The group spent a half-hour at the
police department and then moved on to the fire department for a
Those from the city who attended the tour were Mayor Keith Snyder;
Sue McLaughlin, city administrator; Chuck Conzo, city treasurer;
Susan Gehlbach, city clerk; Risa Riggs, council secretary; Russell
Wright, of the street department, and council members Melody
Anderson, Kathy Horn, Marty Neitzel, Tom O'Donohue and Jonie Tibbs.
The Lincoln Police Department occupies roughly 1,600 square feet
inside the Logan County Safety Complex.
The tour began with Greenslate introducing the group to the
patrolmen's office area. This is one of the larger areas inside the
building, with four workstations that include computers and other
items necessary for completing paperwork and conducting victim or
Greenslate turned the tour over to Officer Matt Vlahovich. Inside
this room there is comfortable space for four officers. On most days
there are at least five officers on duty per shift. Vlahovich told
the group that at the beginning of each new shift there is an
overlap of officers as one group wraps up their day and prepares to
leave and another begins their day. In that overlap, for possibly
two hours, the number of officers working in the room can double.
Vlahovich explained that it does depend on what each officer has
to work on in the office, but they often run into a situation where
there is not enough workspace for officers to do their jobs.
He also said this is the area where officers may be doing
interviews with witnesses, victims, juveniles, even suspects.
Greenslate also commented that possibly contrary to belief, the
officers cannot always just take someone to a holding cell.
example, juveniles cannot be held in that manner.
In addition, Vlahovich said that when the officers are working on
a case, this is the area where they first bring in evidence.
The department does have one interrogation or interview room, but
Greenslate and Vlahovich explained that one room is seldom enough
when they are dealing with a case.
The tour moved on to that one interrogation room. The space is
less than a 10-foot square with one door and a one-way window for
viewing interviews from outside the room. Inside the room there is a
small table and two chairs.
Greenslate explained that in addition to the need for more rooms,
the department also needs safer, sturdier rooms. He explained that
the walls of the room have numerous patches where irate individuals
have lost control and punched holes in the walls.
As the visitors took turns stepping into and out of the room,
Detective Tim Kerns talked about the problems with the area. He said
one of the problems the department faces when taking cases to court
is accusations of intimidation. He said the physical size of the
room adds to that feeling of being intimidated.
He noted: "I'm not the largest officer in the department, but you
put Alderman Tibbs, me and another officer in there; Alderman Tibbs
might be able to say she felt intimidated and compelled to talk to
Kerns also said there are times when multiple people are involved
in a situation: a possible victim, a witness and a possible suspect,
for example. Kerns said keeping those people separated may involve
having one in the detective's office, one in the interrogation room
and another one sitting in the lobby area. He said this brings up
issues of privacy.
Stepping into the detective office, Kerns pointed out that the
back wall of the room is a common wall between the office and the
jail holding area. He said this is a problem because if there is an
agitated person in a holding cell, that person's actions and words
can be heard through the walls. He said this is particularly a
concern when he has a child in his office because these are children
who are sometimes already very frightened, and the commotion on the
other side of the wall makes the situation worse.
Kerns also talked about the problems with processing evidence. He
said the area now being used is insufficient. He added that
something the department doesn't have is a safe, secure drying space
for evidence. He said evidence can get wet; items get thrown in a
creek or wet from rain. Some things need to be properly handled to
preserve them. He cited as an example if he were to have blood
evidence on a wet shirt, his option today would be to spread
newspapers on the floor and lay the shirt there until it is dry. He
said this is not conducive to maintaining evidence in a proper
As the tour progressed, Greenslate took the group to the front
desk or reception area of the building. He said this is where Brenda
McCabe works. McCabe is a city employee and not an officer with
officer training. Greenslate said oftentimes when the department is
working with more than one possible victim or suspect, someone ends
up being placed in this room with McCabe. He said it is neither a
safe nor private place to hold someone.
Other areas the group looked at included Greenslate's office. He
said that while the room is fairly large, there is a lot that it
doesn't offer. He added that there are times when his office, too,
becomes a waiting area for possible suspects or victims, and again
that is not the ideal situation.
The final stop on the tour was the evidence room, which,
according to Officer Michael Fruge, is lacking in many areas.
Fruge explained statutes of limitations on certain evidence and
said that the room, which is small, is packed. In addition, he said
the room had odor issues that make it burdensome to work in there,
and there is only one electrical outlet in the room, which also
causes a problem. Fruge also told the group that while the door has
a lock on it, architecturally the room is not all that secure. He
said if someone were determined to get into the evidence room, it is
possible they could do so without going through the door.
The department had been afforded 30 minutes to conduct their
tour. After viewing the evidence room, Greenslate said there was
another small area downstairs that the city department uses, but due
to time constraints, they would have to forgo that part of the tour.
The final item discussed was an invitation for aldermen to do a
ride-along with patrol officers. The police department will allow
any civilian to do a daytime ride-along and experience an officer's
day from inside the patrol car to inside the office. There are
certain releases that have to be signed, so it is good to ask in
advance by contacting the city police department office.
When the aldermen left the police station, they journeyed back to
City Hall, where fire Chief Mark Miller was waiting to give them a
tour of the firehouse.