LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska’s capital city recorded no homicides last year, matching the 1991 mark of zero, but its top public safety officers said the figure doesn’t prove whether Lincoln was safer than other cities.
The 2017 mark and only five shootings with injury were “a testament to the expectations of those that live here and the fact that so many take a vested ownership in the quality of life in Lincoln, Nebraska,” police Chief Jeff Bliemeister told the Lincoln Journal Star .
The homicide toll in 2016 was 11, breaking a record that had stood for 30 years, police statistics say. Two years ago the city had one homicide.
Lincoln police investigated 259 deaths in 2017, including 47 cases in which the cause and manner of death were not immediately apparent, a police spokeswoman said.
Cases involving several high-profile deaths that could be classified as homicides remain active, including how exactly an August house explosion originated. The blast killed Jeanne Jasa and injured her husband, Jim Jasa.
The suspicious July 11 death of 4-year-old Brooklyn Maxwell also remains under investigation, Bliemeister said.
The police chief and Public Safety Director Tom Casady attribute the lack of homicides in 2017, in part, to the reduction in shootings. The records show intentional shootings could be counted on one hand in Lincoln last year.
The figure is low “even by Lincoln standards,” Casady said. Seventeen people were shot in 2013; a dozen were shot in 2010.
In 2016 — the homicide record year — 31 criminal shootings were reported, he said.
The homicide rate is a questionable figure for measuring a city’s safety level, Bliemeister and Casady said.
Eleven killings in 2016 was an anomaly, Casady said.
“So is zero,” he said.
Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com