Nebraska patrol considering new community outreach policy

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Officials say a new outreach policy under consideration by Nebraska State Patrol leaders would encourage on-duty troopers to attend county fairs, public celebrations, school programs, sporting events, recitals and church services.

Patrol spokeswoman Deb Collins told the Lincoln Journal Star on Thursday that the proposal is “designed to inspire our sworn officers to make a difference by interacting with the citizens of Nebraska through the occasional participation in community outreach activities.”

The proposal outlines the process a trooper would have to follow to attend an event, and Collins noted that it’s still in the early stages of consideration. Col. Brad Rice, who took command of the state patrol in March, declined to comment about the proposed outreach program.

In neighboring Iowa, the State Patrol dedicates around 14 officers to public outreach, said the agency’s media specialist, Sgt. Nathan Ludwig.

The officers mainly focus on traffic safety education at schools and public events, but they also provide traffic control for events like the annual bike ride across Iowa and they attend the Iowa State Fair.

“As far as going to church, they don’t do anything like that,” Ludwig said. “Or attend sporting events.”

A message was left with the president of the State Troopers Association of Nebraska was left Wednesday by the Omaha World-Herald.

In Omaha, Nebraska, staff of the city’s Police Department within the Neighborhood Services Unit make regular public appearances, speak at schools and organize events such as Coffee with a Cop.

Omaha police spokesman officer Michael Pecha said that during such events, on-duty officers often show up and participate when not responding to a call.

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