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Celebrating 85 Years of the Nebraska State Patrol

Celebrating 85 Years of the Nebraska State Patrol

By Governor Pete Ricketts

July 5, 2022

 

Governor’s official photo here

 

In 1937, the Nebraska Safety Patrol was formed to address the rising problem of crashes on our state’s roads.  Eighty-five years later, that organization still stands—now known as the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP).  Their mission to help keep our communities and citizens safe hasn’t wavered.  But they continue to adapt the ways they carry out that mission to meet the needs of Nebraskans.  As we celebrate 85 years of the NSP, let’s recognize all they do for our state.  They keep us safe on the roads, protect us from crime, stop online predators, and take dangerous drugs off our streets.

 

Many Nebraskans are familiar with the work the NSP does to keep our roads safe.  In Nebraska, severe weather can come on suddenly.  Blizzards, thunderstorms, and extreme winds create treacherous driving conditions with little warning.  Every season of the year, our Troopers perform life-saving rescues of stranded motorists.  NSP made 163 rescues during the historic floods of March 2019.  Later that year, in July, NSP made over 100 additional rescues as rapidly rising floodwaters inundated Gibbon, Kearney, and Wood River.

 

State Troopers also secure our roadways by responding to traffic accidents.  They help clear crash scenes quickly to avoid secondary accidents and to get traffic moving again.  Troopers work to determine what caused an accident, and their findings help prevent future crashes. 

 

In August 2021, the NSP launched an innovative drone program to improve how it manages crash sites and performs accident investigations.  The drones capture aerial footage and take measurements from the sky, quickly gathering data needed for the investigation.  By using the drones, NSP has reduced the time to investigate an accident from 2 ½ hours to just 45 minutes.  This makes for a safer, more efficient response.  Every minute saved at a crash site is a minute that motorists aren’t detouring around a crash and our first responders aren’t at risk standing on the roadside.   

 

One of the most important duties our Troopers perform is responding to crimes in progress.  Troopers are willing to risk their own safety to protect those in danger.  In January, NSP received word from law enforcement in Indiana that an armed suspect and kidnapping victim were likely headed westbound on I-80 through Nebraska.  A warrant had been issued for the driver’s arrest.  Troopers located the vehicle near Grand Island and attempted a traffic stop.  The driver crossed the median and tried to head back east on I-80.  Troopers quickly made a tactical vehicle intervention to stop the fleeing pickup.  An NSP SWAT team took the suspect into custody without incident, locating several firearms in the cab of the truck.  They also rescued the kidnapped female passenger who reported that she had been handcuffed by the driver during the journey from Indiana to Nebraska.

 

In June, the State Patrol assisted Indiana law enforcement on another case to intercept a human trafficker passing through Nebraska.  Indiana police notified NSP to be on the lookout for a missing 13-year old girl in a Ford F-150.  Troopers located the vehicle near Kearney and made a traffic stop.  They found the young girl hiding in the pickup and arrested the 20-year old driver.  He was later charged with numerous crimes, including sexual trafficking of a child.

 

As more illegal activity moves online, NSP has also ramped up its efforts to fight cybercrime.  In June 2019, the agency launched a Technical Crimes Division (TCD).  It protects Nebraska’s state and business infrastructure, conducts child exploitation investigations, and provides forensic assistance to agencies throughout the state.  TCD received more than 2,000 cyber tips in 2021, which it has used to successfully investigate cases of enticement and child pornography.  

 

Just last month, NSP arrested a man from Roca for child enticement.  He had used social media in an attempt to arrange a sexual encounter with a girl he believed was only 14 years old.  In reality, the man had been in correspondence with an undercover NSP investigator.  When he showed up expecting to meet her, he was arrested by NSP investigators.

 

Drug interdiction is another main focus of the State Patrol.  The NSP works tirelessly to keep drugs off our streets and out of our communities.  This is more important than ever as illicit drugs stream into America across our broken southern border.  In 2021, the NSP seized about 2 ½ times the amount of fentanyl as it did in 2020.  The amount of cocaine seized by NSP more than tripled from 2020 to 2021.

 

Nebraska has the 2nd-lowest drug overdose mortality rate in the country according to the CDC.  WalletHub ranks Nebraska as having the 4th-lowest “Drug Use and Addiction” in America.  NSP deserves credit for contributing to these strong rankings through its vigilant drug interdiction. 

 

On behalf of all Nebraskans, thank you to the NSP for the 85 years of service to keep our communities safe.  Their mission has been successful because of the thousands of men and women who have answered the call to serve.  I invite Nebraskans to consider a career with our state’s premier law enforcement agency.  Applications for NSP Basic Recruit Camp 67 open on July 7th and will remain open for about three months.  Prospective candidates can visit NebraskaTroopers.com to learn more about the application process, the benefits of working for the NSP, and the job opportunities available.

 

As always, please share any comments or concerns with me by emailing pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or calling 402-471-2244.