LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska State Patrol and the Omaha Police Department earlier this year had been ordered to halt their spending of funds seized during drug busts and traffic stops because of irregularities found by a federal compliance check.
The Omaha World-Herald (http://bit.ly/1TLlriq ) reports that the agencies received the order from the U.S. Department of Justice earlier this year. The state patrol’s freeze lasted six months, and the Omaha police spending freeze lasted nine months.
Col. Brad Rice, the superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol, said the freeze was mostly the result of disagreements about rules and accounting practices, which have now been cleared up.
The patrol transferred $29,000 in funds to correct mistaken expenditures and was able to resume spending after pleading its case in October to the Justice Department.
Omaha police resumed spending on Nov. 10 after it provided further documentation for $45,000 in “partially questionable” expenditures and after transferring $825 to cover spending that the Justice Department determined was impermissible or questionable.
The police department, which currently has about $1 million in seizure funds, was able to utilize other money until the freeze was lifted.
A Justice Department spokesman, Peter Carr, said such freezes are not uncommon and are not considered punishments.
Carr says that the department began ordering spending restrictions in 2014, and that 39 law enforcement agencies around the nation have been temporarily banned from spending funds.
According to the spokesman, the spending freezes for the state patrol and the Omaha Police Department were the first ordered ever in Nebraska.
State Sen. Tommy Garrett says he will introduce legislation next month to require state and local law enforcement agencies to file annual reports with the state auditor about how much they seized and how the funds were spent.