A measure seeking to increase discipline within the Nebraska State Patrol and prevent bad cops from jumping from one police department to another is on the verge of passing.
Judiciary Committee chair, Senator Laura Ebke of Crete, sponsors LB 791 on behalf of Gov. Pete Ricketts who acted after disciplinary problems shook the patrol.
“As much as anything, it’s a transparency bill,” Ebke tells Nebraska Radio Network. “It’s an ability to act on bad actors when they show up in our law enforcement system.”
Gov. Ricketts ordered an internal investigation of the Nebraska State Patrol after the Omaha World-Herald published a couple of articles on one trooper who used a controversial maneuver to sideswipe a fleeing vehicle during a high-speed chase, causing the car to crash, killing the suspect and on another trooper who struck a drunk suspect with a rifle butt.
Ricketts fired Superintendent Brad Rice last year after an investigation by his administration found fault with his conduct during the use-of-force incidents.
New Superintendent John Bolduc took disciplinary action against seven NSP members after the conclusion of the internal investigation.
LB 791 also seeks to address a complaint that some law enforcement officers who either resigned or were fired after being disciplined could be re-hired by another department which would be completely unaware of the disciplinary action.
Ebke says a police department should be able to discover why an officer left another department.
“Then a new agency that’s looking at hiring somebody who has a certificate should be able to find out why they had been dismissed,” Ebke says.
Some senators complained the bill was greatly watered down during the process. Others charged the bill weakens the collective bargaining rights of NSP members. The bill prohibits negotiating disciplinary procedures in labor talks.
A provision in the bill gives increased protection to state workers who file sexual harassment complaints, shielding them from retaliation.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]