Gov. Pete Ricketts today fired Nebraska State Patrol Superintendent, Colonel Brad Rice, after receiving preliminary results of an investigation of the patrol.
“This morning, I have relieved Col. Rice of his duties as the superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol,” Ricketts told reporters during a news conference at the Capitol. “We have also placed on administrative leave Lt. Colonel Tom Schwarten as well as five other NSP personnel, pending further review of their actions.”
Ricketts declined to disclose the five others placed on paid administrative leave.
“In the meantime, I have placed Administrative Services Major Russ Stanczyk in charge of the Nebraska State Patrol,” according to Ricketts. “He will be the interim superintendent until we find a permanent replacement. My team will immediately begin the search for a new superintendent for the Nebraska State Patrol.”
Ricketts declines to detail the cases which led to his firing of Rice, though he refers to a “use of force” incident last year. Controversy also revolves around changes made to the official report on a fatal wreck in western Nebraska.
Ricketts last week ordered a review of “policies and procedures” of the Nebraska State Patrol by the governor’s Chief Human Resources Officer Jason Jackson. Initial results have been handed over to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“Certainly, there were concerns raised publicly with regard to the investigations of use of force from last year and those were part of the review that Jason did,” Ricketts said. “But, again, we’re not going to go into specifics, as we’re going to have to go through our own internal review with each of these folks.”
The Omaha World-Herald reported on inconsistencies in the official NSP report on a fatal crash in western Nebraska last year which involved a trooper. Allegations arose that leaders within the patrol forced changes in the initial accident report.
Ricketts vowed to make the changes necessary at the patrol.
“I am most concerned about our ability to protect the people of Nebraska, that is our highest duty at the state and the Nebraska State Patrol is critical in carrying that out,” Ricketts stated. “And to the extent that we need to have a reputation that is above reproach, we will do what we need to to make this happen.”
AUDIO: Gov. Ricketts announces the firing of NSP Supt. Brad Rice. [2:40]