Law enforcement reciprocity program advances

A bill intended to streamline the reciprocity process for law enforcement officers to become certified in Nebraska advanced from general file Feb. 25.

Sen. Steve Lathrop
Sen. Steve Lathrop

LB1241, introduced by Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha, would make a number of changes to the current law enforcement reciprocity program. Among other provisions, the bill would change the reciprocity process for law enforcement officers certified in another state.

It would require an applicant to pass a physical fitness test and a reciprocity test approved by the Police Standards Advisory Council. An applicant also would be required to have completed a training program equivalent to a Nebraska academy or have actively engaged in performing the duties of a law enforcement officer.

A person seeking certification under the reciprocity process would not be allowed to exercise law enforcement authority until all requirements have been met, however they could serve as a non-certified conditional officer under the bill.

LB1241 also would require that a reciprocity test be offered at least once a month and would redefine a training academy as any facility operated by multiple agencies that offers certification training. Additionally, the bill would remove a requirement that a law enforcement officer complete continuing education in the year of their retirement.

Lathrop said the bill would improve the way Nebraska trains and certifies its law enforcement officers.

“If you are trying to recruit an officer from outside of the state, the hoops they have to jump through to become certified law enforcement officers in Nebraska were unnecessary and they impeded the ability of Nebraska agencies to recruit from outside the state,” he said.

The Judiciary Committee offered an amendment to the bill that would require the council to take action on an application within 45 days after all requirements have been met. Additionally, the amendment would require the council create a study guide for the program by July 1, 2022.

Bennington Sen. Wendy DeBoer spoke in support of LB1241 and the amendment, which she said would be an important workforce development tool for the state.

“[The bill] would address law enforcement and making sure that they have the best possible candidates to choose from when they’re having to pick which officers they will recruit and making sure they are able to retain those officers, not just in the rural areas, but also in the urban areas,” DeBoer said.

Sterling Sen. Julie Slama also spoke in support of the bill and the amendment, saying the proposal would incentivize rural police officers by giving them the resources and the manpower needed to serve communities.

The amendment was adopted on a 46-0 vote and LB1241 advanced from general file 45-0.

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