Law enforcement reciprocity process streamlined

The reciprocity process for law enforcement officers to become certified in Nebraska was updated under a bill passed April 12.

Sen. Steve Lathrop
Sen. Steve Lathrop

LB1241, introduced by Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha, makes a number of changes to the state’s current law enforcement reciprocity program. Under the bill, a person seeking certification under the reciprocity process will not be allowed to exercise law enforcement authority until all requirements have been met, however they may serve as a non-certified conditional officer.

The bill redefines a training academy as any facility operated by multiple law enforcement agencies that offers certification training and requires that a reciprocity test be offered at least once a month. The bill also removes a requirement that a law enforcement officer complete continuing education in the calendar year of their retirement.

The bill contains provisions of LB1270, introduced by Elmwood Sen. Robert Clements, which authorize a tiered system of retention payments and hiring bonuses to law enforcement officers.

Tier one provides a payment of $750 to officers in police departments with over 75 officers and $1,500 to officers in departments with fewer than 75 officers who have completed one year of full-time service. Tier two provides a $2,500 bonus to officers in small departments for three years of full-time service and tier three provides $5,000 to officers who have completed five years of full-time service.

A law enforcement officer is not eligible for tier retention incentive payments if convicted of a felony or a Class I misdemeanor or if their certification has been revoked. An officer found to have engaged in serious misconduct or who was allowed to resign instead of being terminated from employment also is ineligible.

The provisions state legislative intent to appropriate $5 million each fiscal year to implement the grant program, which will take effect July 1, 2022, and terminate June 20, 2028.

A law enforcement agency also may apply for a grant to distribute hiring bonuses to newly hired full-time officers. Departments with fewer than 150 officers that currently are not at the recommended level of staffing as determined by the Nebraska Police Standards Advisory Council are eligible for the funding.

LB1241 was approved on a vote of 46-0 and took effect immediately.

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