Report faults Patrol investigations on use of force, sexual harrassment

Gov. Pete Ricketts looks on as Jason Jackson details criticisms of State Patrol (Photo by Bill Kelly, NET News)
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August 3, 2017 - 6:16pm

 

The Nebraska State Patrol mishandled investigations into the use of force and sexual harassment, among other problems, according to a new report.


The criticisms of the Patrol were contained in a report written by Gov. Pete Ricketts Chief Human Resources Officer Jason Jackson. It faults former Patrol Superintendent Brad Rice for interfering in internal investigations including one about a driver was killed in a high-speed chase, and another where a trooper hit a suspect in the head with a rifle butt.

Ricketts fired Rice June 30, shortly after the Omaha World-Herald detailed shifting explanations for a motorist’s death in the high speed chase. Six other members of the Patrol's command remain on administrative leave. This week, the newspaper detailed a lawsuit filed by a female trooper alleging invasive physical exams that were not required of male troopers. She complained to her patrol supervisor in 2014, and filed a lawsuit this week charging that nothing was done. Asked if his office had not paid enough attention to the patrol, Ricketts said “I can only act on the information that I have. When information was brought to us, we acted on it.”

When a reporter reminded Ricketts of sex discrimination by Rice had been made when Ricketts appointed him in 2015, Ricketts responded that other people had supported Rice in his confirmation hearing.

To see full report, click here

Jackson said adding to the Patrol’s problems is a provision in the state’s contract with the State Law Enforcement Bargaining Council – SLEBC -- the union representing troopers. The contract prohibits the results of internal affairs investigations being shared with third parties. He said that increases the chances of troopers with problems being hired by other law enforcement agencies.

“Our intent is to negotiate with SLEBC to try and remove those provisions from our existing contract, and if that fails pursue statutory remedies that would remove internal affairs investigations from the sphere of collective bargaining,” Jackson said.

Ricketts said he’s committed to improving troubled agencies. “We are always looking to do continuous improvement. And that’s true whether we’re talking about Corrections or the Nebraska State Patrol. And were going to hold people accountable for results. If they fail to live up to our expectations we are going to take the appropriate action,” he said.

Ricketts declined to say how long he thinks it will take to turn things around. Meanwhile, he thanked what he said were the many fine men and women in the State Patrol who keep Nebraskans safe.  

 

 

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