Nebraska Backs the Blue 100%
By Governor Pete Ricketts
May 17, 2022
Governor’s official photo here.
The Good Life we all enjoy is made possible by the courageous men and women in blue. After traveling the state for the past 7 ½ years as Governor, I know Nebraskans appreciate all that law enforcement does to keep them safe. While other states cut funding for the police, Nebraska is boosting our support for our law enforcement.
As we wrap up National Police Week, I want to recognize all that Nebraska’s law enforcement agencies do for us, 24/7/365.
Everyone knows law enforcement intervenes to stop crime, sometimes in heroic fashion. In March, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call in the middle of the night from a woman being held captive inside a moving vehicle. A county deputy located the vehicle, which fled an attempted traffic stop. A State Trooper aided the response, took lead on the pursuit, and performed a tactical intervention to stop the escaping vehicle. The female passenger was safely removed, and the driver was arrested on charges of false imprisonment and flight to avoid arrest.
Our law enforcement agencies also keep deadly drugs off our streets. This work has become especially important as drugs flow into America across our broken southern border. In 2021, the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) seized triple the amount of cocaine than it did in 2020 and more fentanyl than in 2019 and 2020 combined. While fentanyl is a rapidly growing concern in our state, methamphetamine remains the #1 drug threat in Nebraska. In 2021, 768 pounds of methamphetamines were removed from our streets thanks to law enforcement. They’ve also formed a statewide coalition to help inform citizens about the dangers of meth consumption (www.ago.nebraska.gov/life-or-meth).
Additionally, our law enforcement agencies root out human trafficking. In 2021, York County Deputy Taylor Samek made a traffic stop at Petro travel center. The vehicle he pulled over had a missing girl from New Mexico inside. Thanks to his alert policing, this young teen was rescued from being trafficked and safely returned to her family. Just one year prior, in 2020, a sheriff’s deputy in Furnas County interviewed a girl and recognized she was a victim of sex trafficking. He immediately put together a team of state and local law enforcement and prosecutors. After months of investigative work, that team secured a conviction and a 176.5-year sentence for the man selling the 15-year-old victim to local men. Over a dozen of these men are also facing felony charges.
Law enforcement also keeps our children safe at school. On March 14th, Hastings School Resource Officer Emily Ostdiek was monitoring the high school cafeteria when she noticed an unresponsive student experiencing cardiac arrest. She took immediate action, using an automated external defibrillator (AED) to apply a shock as medical responders rushed to the scene. The AED shock given by Officer Ostdiek saved his life.
And law enforcement officers patrol our roadways to keep motorists safe. That’s no small task in a state where there can be tornadoes, dust storms, and blizzards all in a single month. On May 2nd alone, NSP performed 61 motorist assists and made 28 crash responses when a late spring snowstorm hit western Nebraska.
Our men and women in uniform are in a job that demands the highest level of integrity and adherence to the rule of law. They’ve willingly put themselves between danger and their fellow citizens, accepting risks to their lives. These risks have grown in recent years, due to reckless calls to “defund the police.”
This irresponsible rhetoric emboldens criminals to attack law enforcement. The number of assaults on law enforcement officers increased by more than 4,000 from 2019 to 2020. In 2021, 73 of the nation’s law enforcement officers were intentionally killed in the line of duty. That’s a 58% increase from 2020 and the highest number since 1995. While none of these murders took place in Nebraska, we mourn the loss of law enforcement officers across the country.
As we see attacks on police around the country, I want law enforcement in our state to know that Nebraska backs them 100%. This year’s legislative session made this support crystal clear. I signed into law several bills that make critical investments in law enforcement: LB 1014e allocated $47.7 million to expand the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island so that agencies in our state can provide new recruits with training that’s second to none; LB 1241e devoted funds to help local law enforcement agencies recruit and retain new officers by offering incentives for years of service; and LB 1273 provides tuition waivers for law enforcement officers and a health insurance tax break to qualifying retired officers. Additionally, we’ve invested $16.9 million to upgrade our State Patrol Crime Laboratory to better process evidence to solve crimes. And we provided pay raises to recruit, retain, and support our Department of Corrections officers, who are important members of our law enforcement community.
Our law enforcement officers sacrifice time away from friends and family to protect the public. They’re working when their fellow citizens are enjoying a holiday. They’re on the job in the middle of the night when most Nebraskans are fast asleep. They miss out on baseball games, dance recitals, or birthday parties while answering the call to serve their communities. These men and women give up a lot to keep us safe, and they deserve our respect and gratitude, long after Police Week has ended.
If you’d like to learn more about the ways Nebraska supports law enforcement, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-471-2244.