Seventeen state senators have written Attorney General Doug Peterson, requesting the AG ask the courts to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Nebraska State Patrol.
The request comes after an investigation conducted by Gov. Pete Ricketts’ administration led to the firing of then-Superintendent Brad Rice and the suspension of five other NSP officers.
Sen. Burke Harr of Omaha, one of the 17, says a special prosecutor needs to investigate whether any state laws have been broken.
“What I want to do is to take the politics out of this case,” Harr tells Nebraska Radio Network. “What I would like to be able to avoid is having this tried where the legislature runs the investigation, where the legislature makes decisions and refers for prosecution.”
The governor’s office has forwarded information to federal authorities. Harr points out that the FBI will only investigate whether any federal laws have been broken, not whether state law has been violated.
Harr says this is a matter which must be handled seriously.
“We have to make sure that people can trust our public institutions,” Harr says. “And when government officials and elected and appointed officials fail in their duties, I think it’s important they’re held accountable.”
Gov. Ricketts appointed Chief Human Resource Officer Jason Jackson June 23rd to investigate the patrol after allegations surfaced that Col. Rice exerted inappropriate influence over four internal affairs investigations.
Five others have been suspended over allegations of dishonesty and dereliction of duty in two investigations into whether troopers used excessive force.
Ricketts fired Rice June 30th after receiving the preliminary report from Chief Human Resource Officer Jason Jackson.
The investigation states how the NSP chain of commanded handled two allegations troopers used excessive force raises suspicions of dishonesty and dereliction of duty. In one case, a trooper used a tactical maneuver during a pursuit, resulting in a wreck in which the suspect died. The second case involved allegations a trooper hit a drunk suspect in the head with a rifle butt.
Jackson also states NSP failed to forward 12 cases of misconduct onto the Crime Commission as required by law. His investigation also faults the patrol’s sexual harassment and workplace harassment policies and accuses the patrol of failing to address charges of misconduct.