City falling short on some of its public safety goals, update for Lawrence City Commission shows

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Fire Medical leader: ‘We want to improve now!’

Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday will hear an update on some measures of the city’s performance in safety and security.

Some of the city’s progress indicators in Tuesday’s meeting agenda still include baseline data from the city’s 2019 community survey, according to Interim Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Chief Tom Fagan.

One of those indicators is the percentage of residents who perceive Lawrence as safe or very safe. At 82%, the city was below the target of 90%.

The city’s strategic plan website currently shows that the percentage of residents who rate their trust in emergency services from the police department as “satisfied” or “very satisfied” was 81%, below the target of 85%; and from LDCFM, the rate was 91%, below the goal of 95%. However, those numbers are substitutes using 2019 data that asked residents about the “overall quality” of those services rather than their trust in them.

“We aren’t waiting on the refined data. We want to improve now!” Fagan said via email Monday.

The city’s newly developed community survey will include questions that ask specifically about residents’ trust in public safety services.

“We’re looking forward to connecting to the community more effectively,” Fagan said. “That includes refining our data collection to be more informed about where opportunities exist to improve and how far off the mark we are.”

The commission approved its strategic plan in October 2020, and city staff members have recently been updating commissioners on progress in five outcome areas included in the plan. Fagan and Lawrence Police Chief Rich Lockhart will address commissioners during Tuesday’s meeting about the “safe and secure” outcome.

In the meantime, here are some other stats from the update in the commission’s meeting agenda and from the website:

The city is at 30 crimes per 1,000 residents, above the target of 27.3 per 1,000. Reaching the goal would require about a 9% drop in crime.

The number of fires contained to their room of origin was 56% in fiscal year 2020 and 61% in FY 2021, below the target of 90%.

The number of cardiac arrest patients with pulsatile rhythms upon arrival to a hospital dropped from 38% in FY 2020 to 36.7% in FY 2021, below the goal of 60%.

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Data is still in development for the number of responses to a mental health crisis per 1,000 residents, and the “Variance of satisfaction with perceptions of safety by race, gender, education and income,” according to the website.

In addition, “Can Lawrence firefighters and paramedics make it to your house in time? How fast is fast enough? Tune into the City Commission meeting tomorrow night to hear recommendations to address challenges the City’s growth is causing your firefighters,” the Lawrence Professional Firefighters, IAFF Local 1596, said in a tweet Monday evening.

In other business, commissioners will hear an update on the return of Iⁿ ‘zhúje waxóbe, the Sacred Red Rock, to the Kaw Nation. Read more about a $5 million grant that will help that project move forward in this article.

The City Commission will start its meeting with an executive session (meaning behind closed doors, to discuss a personnel matter involving a city employee) at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The regular meeting will commence at 5:45 p.m. at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. Find the full agenda at this link.

Written public comment must be received by noon the day of the meeting to be included in the agenda. It can be sent to ccagendas@lawrenceks.org.

The meeting will be livestreamed on the city’s website and its YouTube page. The meeting is in hybrid format, meaning the commission will welcome public comment during the meeting from people who appear in person as well as via Zoom.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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