Meet the four finalists for Lincoln’s next Police Chief
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The City of Lincoln is asking for public input on the finalists for the next Lincoln Police Chief.
From now until June 28, you can submit your thoughts on all the candidates to the Mayor’s office by phone or through email.
Each candidate spent this week holding public forums, which included prepared speeches, answering questions, and then interacting with the public.
Genelle Moore is the only local candidate being considered. More shifted to a job with LPS in 2017 following a 34-year policing career.
“I feel that my skillset and my knowledge of the department and the officers in the department would bring quite a lot to the department,” Moore said.
Moore says in the four and a half years she’s been gone from the force, the culture has changed. That culture is something she hopes to address if chosen as chief.
“Because of what has happened, we are focusing on staffing, we’re focusing on recruitment and retention and that’s going to be one of my major focuses as the Chief of Police,” Moore said.
Moore also hopes that being both a woman and a minority is something she will use to her advantage when it comes to recruitment and retention.
She said making sure the officers are of sound mind and body following the murder of Mario Herrera last year is a priority.
“It’s great to have people come in and bake baked goods and all that good stuff,” Moore said. “When you go through trauma, the hard thing of loss and all that, it’s after everybody leaves.”
Teresa Ewins has been involved in various roles in law enforcement for the past 26 years. Her current role has her overseeing 900 officers as a commander with the San Francisco Police Department.
“My experience does come in handy,” Ewins said. “Police departments have to continuously challenge themselves, assess themselves to see if they are serving the community the way it should be done.”
Ewins has spent the past few years in her position implementing community-focused policing programs focused on minimizing bias in policing.
“Continuous training is very important,” Ewins said. “Implicit bias exists for everyone, it doesn’t matter what job you’re in.”
A priority for Ewins includes incorporating mental health experts to work with members on the force, specifically pinpointing people who are frequently needing mental health services and tracking their calls.
“You can’t predict what’s gonna happen,” Ewins said. “So I’d much rather see a system where we partner with clinicians where we go out together.”
Ewins also hopes to further diversify LPD through the recruitment of more women and minorities.
“Because if we don’t invest in our personnel, we have to be fair and diverse like you’re saying, really it’s about doing the work and getting the messaging out,” Ewins said.
McSwain is currently the Chief of Police for the Maryland-National Capital Park Police-Montgomery County Division. Before that, he was a member of the Montgomery County Department of Police for 30 years - retiring as assistant chief.
“[It’s a] full-service agency that oversees 400 different parks of Montgomery County, spread over 37,000 acres and about 490 square miles,” McSwain said.
McSwain has been honored several times for his work in advancing human rights and says reflecting the diversity of Lincoln within the police force is a priority.
“Last year I was with the county police; we saw 54 percent of our recruit class be people of color or be women,” McSwain said. “With my last two years with the park police, 66 percent of members have been women or members of color.”
He also says he would like to emphasize alliances with mental health institutions to further advance appropriate responses to calls for service that involve mental health crises.
“I’ve been involved in co-response models for the better part of 20-25 years,” McSwain said. “Where I come from we’ve got a mobile crisis team.”
McSwain is also in the running for a police chief job in North Carolina - and says he’s honored to be considered for both but if he were to get the one in Lincoln it would be a role he would hold for a long time.
“I fully expect to be here for not only the time in which I can be considered a member of the community, but a known and trusted member within the agency,” McSwain said.
Batista most recently served as the Chief of Police at the Mesa Arizona Police Department. Before that he held various roles at various departments for 30 years.
He retired in 2019, but said George Floyd’s murder was a call back to police work.
“The difficulty of watching George Floyd die at the hands of an officer and that was obviously wrong,” Batista said. “Then, in turn, realizing that that’s not all officers. Then, watching officers suffer through what occurred and the way that those things unfolded really weighed heavy on me.”
If he were named LPD’s new chief, he said his first goal would be to familiarize himself with the department and set goals from there.
“From those conversations, begin to figure out what are the through lines, what are things officers and the community feel are important,” Batista said.
In his off time, he wrote a book about the cultural shift within law enforcement agencies in the past few years.
It’s a mentality he would want to bring to the job.
“In a way that’s transformative and not punitive,” Batista said. “In a way that engages the officers and community in order to find better footing, and find a better path toward outcomes in our community that are safe.”
Batista said he views the police chief’s role as someone who should be incredibly visible and available within the community.
“‘Okay, they made a mistake. They could have handled that, but the chief is talking about it,’” Batista envisioned. “‘I trust him. I know him, I’ve talked to him. Whatever the issue is, they’ll figure it out, they’ll fix it and we’ll be able to move on.’”
Residents are encouraged to provide feedback on the candidates and must submit comments by June 28 to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 402-441-7511.
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