Appreciation often comes through understanding, and, in the season of thanksgiving, it makes sense to gain a better understanding of how the city law enforcement operates and what motivates the Nebraska City Police Department officers in offering 24-7  support and security to the city’s 7,000-plus residents.
When at full staff, the Nebraska City PD consists of 15 full time employees, including Police Chief David Lacy, Captain Lonnie Neeman, four sergeants and eight patrol officers.
Vickie Rhoades is the NCPD secretary and dispatch officer.
At current, the NCPD force is two short of full staff but is in the hiring process to close that gap.
Sergeants on the current staff are Dana Schebaum, Benjamin Murry and Jeffrey Lant.
Officers are Jason Holman, Christopher Richardson, Tracy Sachs, Travis Rogman, Richard Buetzer, Andrew Falk, Brennen Flash (K-9 handler), and Kent Crotty.
Chief Lacy said, when short handed, the NCPD officers have done a great job of sharing responsibilities and communicating schedules to make the law enforcement job is as complication free as possible.

Getting to full staff
When you’re down two employees, it would seem logical to close that gap as quickly as possible.
But quick is not part of the process that leads to the hiring most capable and knowledgeable officers.
Actually, the process is fairly complex and involves third party recommendations that assure the quality of applicants.
To start the process, Chief Lacy informs the mayor of the need for a new officer, testing is ordered by the Civil Service Commission and applicants are notified of the testing date.
The exams, proctored by a third party, involve  a testing of basic knowledge and an aptitude test that serves law enforcement concerns.
High scores from the testing are delivered to the PD and the interview process is begun.
During a recent process, the NCPD had 32 potential officers take the test, 10 of whom ended up qualifying for interviews.
Chief Lacy said the interview process acts as a way to find the best candidates and also to open the eyes of the candidates to the job requirements where they might work nights, weekends, holidays and the birthdays of anniversaries of loved ones.
The work continues through all kinds of weather and under stress.
“We ask them if there is any reason they can think of not to be a police officer,” said Chief Lacy.
After the interview process, the best candidate(s) is chosen.
Extensive paperwork is commenced for the candidate(s) to attend a 16-week law enforcement training course in Grand Island. There is a physical exam and an extensive background check.
Candidates are disqualified if they have felony records, histories of domestic violence or patterns of bad decisions.
The 16-week course in Grand Island is administered on a limited basis, meaning there aren’t  continual opportunities to attend.
There are windows of training opportunity. While an officer waits for an opportunity, they may begin local training to familiarize with Nebraska City, its citizens and the NCPD practices.
The next training session at Grand Island will be in January of 2019. The next session after that would be in September.
Once at Grand Island, candidates must complete satisfactorily all classes in order to continue as officers. Chief said he tells officers that they represent Nebraska City in Grand Island. He reminds them that the NCPD is made aware behavioral factors as well as test scores at Grand Island and that those notifications can result in disqualification.
Upon completion of work in Grand Island, candidates must become familiar with local policies, procedures and ordinances while gaining a understanding of the town’s lay out.
As a new officer, the successful candidate begins a 12-month probation period on the force.

Enforcement Challenges
While every situation is different and unique, Nebraska City’s position in the state and its proximity to north-south and east west transportation routes (1-80 and I-29) make for increased crime opportunity from outside as well as inside the community.
The NCPD deals with all sorts of calls and can be inundated with a flurry of calls in at a single time, all with different tacts and strategies required for successful resolution.
Chief Lacy said the NCPD works to utilize the diverse and unique strengths of all of its officers in meeting the many challenges. A knowledge of the town’s lay out might help in some instances where an alternate approach to a scene is best. Other times, it may be familiarity with residents.
In all cases, Chief Lacy advises the officers to remain on guard to what might happen and to work toward de-escalation of tension.
“People tend to escalate violence,” said Chief Lacy.
And situations, at times, need to be defused.
The main goal, of course, is to aid citizens and ensure safety while enforcing the law.
It is the instinct of an officer, Chief Lacy said, to run toward the trouble and to be constantly    ready to lend aid.
Officers respond to on-call needs when incidents happen and often come before a contact goes out because they’ve heard about the trouble and have responded by coming in to see how they may be able to help.

Working with the community
In order to make the community safe, the Nebraska City Police Department often times relies on citizens to help find and solve problems, locate and apprehend criminals and create safer environments for everyone.
These realities are not lost on Captain Neeman, who says he likes to think Nebraska City’s citizens and the NCPD officers get along.
“I think the Nebraska City Police Department and the Nebraska City community get along very well,” Neeman said. “I would like ot think that we are highly respected within the community.”
The best way to ensure those good relationships is to go out in the community and have positive and relationship building contacts with residents.
Programs within the schools help the police department to achieve their goals in community relations.
Shop with a Cop, which helps disadvantaged children enjoy Christmas, and No Shave November, which challenge officers to get donations to charitable organizations by growing facial hair, are examples of the fun interactions.
Captain Neeman said the officers work closely with community groups like Crime Stoppers or community watch or action groups that keep an eye on parks or neighborhoods. By listening to all, the NCPD can more effectively reach its objectives. “There are times that come up when we need the community’s help in solving or finding out something,” Neeman said.

Why do this job?
Nebraska City Police Department employees were asked a pair of questions in regard to their experience in law enforcement.
The questions and their answers are found below.

Jeffrey Lant, Sergeant

What was the reason you chose to go into law enforcement?
I’ve wanted to go into law enforcement since my Dad, John Lant, went to work for the Otoe County Sheriff’s Department; I was in 6th grade at that time.  I looked up to my Dad, and I was impressed by the responsibility I saw him carry in these formative years.  Those thoughts never left me, and as I grew older I began doing whatever I could to help prepare myself to enter this career field.

Has your experience in law enforcement met the expectations that you had when you took the job?
Working in law enforcement is much more difficult than I anticipated.  I did expected there would be high stress and tense situations as well as long periods of boredom, both of which have proven to be true. I did not; however, realize how difficult determining the correct / right course of action can be in some situations.
Overall though, it’s been an incredible opportunity to serve in law enforcement.  There are few other professions that have the ability to make this depth of impact in others lives with the frequency this one does.  It’s important we get it right.

Sergeant
Benjamin Murry

What was the reason you chose to go into law enforcement?
My father was in law enforcement and was a huge part of showing me how to serve others. Law enforcement was an easy choice for me as I was surrounded by public safety my whole life.

Has your experience in law enforcement met the expectations that you had when you took the job?
Law enforcement has changed many times and in many aspects through out the years. There is no way to have expectations as nothing is ever the same. Each day is something different. We have a saying. "You just can't make this stuff up.” You never know what you will face moment to moment. Yet, law enforcement is one of the most rewarding careers there is.