NTF issue paper: legwatch194.doc. 8-20.

. Mobs of rioters and looters in Omaha and Lincoln and militant rallies in other NE communities have issued demands on civic authorities, with threats to continue mob anarchy and militancy if their demands not met. One of their demands, besides entirely defunding police departments, is to severely curtail the actions of law officers while detaining and arresting violent criminals. Leftist Sen. Justin Wayne is the key legislative leader pressing this demand by his legislation.

. LB 1222, sponsored by Wayne, infers that law enforcement agencies are suspect and require additional civilian review, particularly in larger cities. He wants cities to establish police oversight boards to monitor, investigate, and evaluate police standards and practices. Under his bill, every city before Jan.1, 2021 that employs full-time law officers must appoint a Citizen Police Oversight Board to perform such duties. All board meetings are public, conducted in compliance with the NE Open Meetings Act. Each board must have 7 members from the public, appointed by the mayor with city council approval. Members serve for 5- year terms, eligible for re-appointment, and represent various sections of a city population. Citizens could not serve on such board if previously affiliated with or employed by a law enforcement agency or department or office of the city or county in which city located. Each board must hire staff investigators, none of whom have had affiliation or employment with a law enforcement agency. These investigators will have full range of investigative powers necessary to enable the board to conduct fair, independent, and effective investigations. Boards will investigate grievances and complaints filed by the public against the police dept. and officers. They will investigate all officer shootings and all instances of alleged misconduct by a dept. or its officers, identify all instances of police misconduct, and report their findings and recommendations to the police dept., mayor, and city council, plus all federal and state registries of police misconduct. Boards would provide police depts. feedback from citizens who have direct contact with police. A board could directly dismiss a grievance or complaint filed by a citizen only if the board determines that the complaint is irrelevant, trivial, frivolous, or made in bad faith. A decision by the board to dismiss a grievance or complaint would not prohibit it from incorporating facts in other matters under investigation. Each city would provide its board with sufficient funding and resources to adequately do its duties. Investigations performed independent of the police dept. A board would have authority to request and receive from a police dept. assistance and information the board believes necessary to accomplish its duties. It could examine all police dept. records and documents, including personnel records, and issue subpoenas to compel citizens to appear to give testimony or produce documents considered relevant. After an investigator completes an investigation, he will submit a written report to the board, summarizing his findings, and recommend to the board disposition of the matter. After receiving such report, the board will decide disposition of the complaint by majority vote and publish its conclusions and recommendations in a written summary given the police dept., mayor, and city council. If discovering criminal conduct by a police officer, the board would submit a written summary, with evidence of possible criminal conduct, to the county attorney. If a board submits a summary or report to the police dept. making specific recommendations for action, the dept. must submit a timely response to the board, explaining reasons for acceptance or rejection of such recommendations. A board may publish its written summaries and reports by releasing them to the media. All written summaries and reports prepared by a board are public records.

. Additional costs will hit city taxpayers. Omaha estimates spending $775,000 annually for personnel, including employee wages, benefits, and legal fees and subpoenas. Lincoln estimates $150,000 costs, including salaries, benefits, administration, training, and supplies. Also, additional costs for office space, transportation, and other operating costs. LaVista estimates $294,262 in FY 2022 and $268,371 in FY 2023. These costs would cover secretary and investigator expenses, benefits, operating costs, travel, and capital expenditures. Plattsmouth estimates yearly expenditures of $134,515 for wages, benefits, training, office supplies, and legal counsel. Plus, costs for an investigator and 7 board members. Chadron believes costs will reach $236,400 in FY 2021 and $242,310 in FY 2022 for investigators, office supplies, publications, legal assistance, and assorted materials. This city estimates a 2.5% increase in FY 2022 costs. Hastings estimates yearly costs at $400,000, and Columbus pegs costs of $291,542 in FY 2021 and $262,178 in FY 2022. Gering set its costs at $504,000, not counting payments for training, travel, motel, meals, publications, and clerical expenditures.

. The Legislature suspended its rules to allow Sen. Wayne to introduce his bill. Normally, bills allowed for introduction only during the first 10 days of the legislative session. Despite the bill text obviously meant to restrict police procedures, Wayne spent 2 hours exhorting his fellow senators about how his oversight legislation is “not anti-police, but pro-accountability.” 32 senators voted to suspend the rules, 30 needed. 4 voted against it. Sen. Wayne requested a roll call vote, in reverse order, on the motion to suspend the rules. Voting YES, against taxpayers: Blood, DeBoer, Howard, McCollister, Walz, Bolz, Dorn, Hunt, Morfeld, Wayne, Brandt, Gragert, Kolowski, Moser, Williams, Briese, Groene, Kolterman, Pansing Brooks, Wishart, Cavanaugh, Hansen, B., Lathrop, Quick, Chambers, Hansen, M., Lindstrom, Scheer, Crawford, Hilkemann, Linehan, Vargas. Voting NO, with taxpayers: Albrecht, Erdman, Friesen, Hilgers. Present but not voting: Arch, Clements, Hughes, McDonnell, Bostelman, Geist, La Grone, Murman, Brewer, Halloran, Lowe, Slama.

. LB 1222 boosters rallied in front of the Capitol Bldg. to support the bill and condemn police. Testifying in favor of the bill were leftists and those bearing grudges against police officers or departments. Leftist Sen. Megan Hunt alleged that dozens of recent rioters had complained about police brutality. Leftist Sen. Morfeld sided with the rioters, echoing that there was a police problem. Opposition testimony mostly came from law enforcement leaders who stated that the bill ignored current solutions and removed too much authority from police chiefs. Substantial bill flaws included disregard for current police oversight, threats to ongoing investigations, the expense of an additional unfunded mandate, and definite lack of evidence supporting the need for this bill. One concern raised by groups that represent crime victims was protecting victim identities. Mayor Jean Stothert testified that the Omaha police advisory board had received only 5 complaints within the last 12 months and that she preferred local control and solutions. She noted that she already had revised police dept. policies to require additional training. Also testifying against were the Omaha Police Officers Association, the Police Chiefs Association of NE, NE League of Municipalities, and the cities of Lincoln, North Platte, and Papillion. Omaha Police Chief Schmaderer argued that the boards would undermine his authority and place officers at risk. He worried about the quality of investigations done by amateurs, lack of confidentiality in proceedings, and the risk of the board interfering with official investigations conducted professionally. The Omaha police union president worried that the bill would not offer officers the same kind of due process allowed other city employees. The bill still is in the Urban Affairs Comm. and needs 5 of 8 votes to advance to the full Legislature.

. This bill seeks to solve a problem of police brutality that does not exist in NE. Blue Lives Matter. Instead of handcuffing our law officers who risk their lives while apprehending dangerous criminals, we need legislation to punish rioters and looters more severely. Email your state senator quickly to vote NO on LB 1222, using the above content, as the session will end Aug. 13. Email netaxpayers@gmail.com for senator contact information and to join our NE Taxpayers Legislature Watch Project. 8-20.

Research, documentation, and analysis for this issue paper done by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom. This material copyrighted by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, with express prior permission granted for its use by other groups in the NE Conservative Coalition Network. 8-20. C

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