Lincoln’s Mayor details changes to LPD, CPAB, and Mayoral Pardons

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 2:36 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and Lincoln officials updated the community on the City’s efforts to improve local police responses at a briefing on Tuesday.

You now have the chance to voice your opinion on proposed changes to the Lincoln Police Department's use of force policy.

On Tuesday at the mayor's press briefing, she announced the draft that would change the way LPD officers do many things.

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird says the goal is to build a greater trust in the community.

If approved, one big change would ban chokeholds and strangleholds, unless there is a case where lethal force is authorized.

“An explicit ban on chokeholds and strangleholds, the codification of the current training at LPD where they provide a verbal warning before using lethal force if feasible, and those would not further endanger those involved,” said Mayor Gaylor Baird.

The revisions would add more comprehensive reporting of the use of force, specified de-escalation strategies, and reaffirmation of the duty to intervene.

“There will be increased oversight, increased accountability, hard questions asked, and that’s something that we welcome and look forward to,” said Chief Jeff Bliemeister, Lincoln Police Department.

Brittney Hodges-Bolkovac is a member of the Hold Cops Accountable committee. She says this is a step in the right direction, but this is just the start.

“It leaves no room for confusion, you are a sworn officer of the law and you are being held to a higher standard than the regular common citizen of Lincoln,” said Hodges-Bolkovac.

Going forward, she says she wants to see if these policies if approved, will change anything and wants to know how they’ll be able to tell.

“You can read something in a textbook, it doesn’t mean you’re going to do it. It’s the act, the practice the repetition of things like that, being put in those situations, how are you going to respond?,” said Hodges-Bolkovac.

The Mayor noted changes to the Citizen Police Advisory Board. The CPAB is responsible for hearing complaints of police behaviors and policies. The group was initially created in 1975 and last updated in 2011. The Mayor said they will go to the City Council in July and suggest that the CPAB allow for the electronic filing of complaints, to expand the amount of time to issue a complaint from 45 days to 60 days, and to expand the membership of CPAB from seven members to nine members.

The Mayor also noted several changes to the mayoral pardons system during the press conference. Officials said pardon determinations are made on a case by case basis. The City’s pardon application has been revised and can be seen on the Lincoln City’s website. After six months passed, the pardon application process will begin. The Mayor said that she will not pardon any individuals who caused violence, destruction, or physical aggression during the protests and riots.

LPD is currently investigating the incidents between May 29 to June 1 and is going through the review of whether the use of force was appropriate for each incident. These reports also include several hit-and-run incidents, several arson cases, assaults, and the various assaults of 23 police officers. An initial debrief has been provided to LPD Chief of Police Jeff Bliemeister and a timeline will be provided to the public once the further review is completed.

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