Omaha, NE.—Seven months following an exclusive News Channel Nebraska investigation of the State Patrol the governor’s office is asking lawmakers to finalize a series of proposed fixes.
The changes, which would include additional oversight of the patrol by the Nebraska Crime Commission, come in the aftermath of a deadly high speed chase and crash in western Nebraska which resulted in scandal and an unprecedented house cleaning within the patrol.
The recent NSP shake-up found one trooper fired, a sergeant resigning, the patrol’s second in command retiring, a major and captain demoted, while another trooper and sergeant were hit with unspecified “administrative penalties” but allowed to stay on the job.
As NCN first reported the patrol’s own investigation of the 2016 crash in western Nebraska, which found 32-year-old Antoine LaDeaux ejected from his car (see video above) and killed, left Internal Affairs Lt. Dennis Leonard—who has since retired—convinced the patrol is no longer “capable of objectively investigating our own.”
A 15-page June review of the patrol by an investigator for Gov. Pete Ricketts noted “misconduct” and “dereliction of duty” throughout the top command. Ricketts says the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office are also investigating but neither has confirmed any probes.
A special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate possible criminal wrongdoing apparently in relation to testimony by members of the patrol to a Sheridan County grand jury which examined the fatal crash and decided no charges would be filed.
In today’s latest report the governor’s investigator said the patrol has made “considerable progress, but work remains” to return NSP to its “proper place of public esteem.”
Other changes proposed by the administration would:
- Require patrol administrators disclose to the Crime Commission why officers guilty of misconduct resigned or were fired.
- Remove internal investigations from a list of items that are subject to collective bargaining with the troopers’ union.
Two state lawmakers, Omaha’s Burke Harr and Paul Schumacher of Columbus have asked for a special legislative hearing. State Sen. Laura Ebke, who heads up the Judiciary Committee which oversees the patrol, is gathering reports and records and has not ruled out additional legislative action.