Rep. Flood launches initiative to recruit out-of-state law enforcement officers to Nebraska

Feb. 20, 2024, 6 p.m. ·

Rep. Mike Flood is joined by State Sen. Eliot Bostar and law enforcement officials to announce the Nebraska Backs the Blue initiative in Lincoln Tuesday. (Photo by Brian Beach/Nebraska Public Media News)

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Congressman Mike Flood launched a new initiative Tuesday to highlight Nebraska as a destination for law enforcement officers from out of state.

The initiative, called Nebraska Backs the Blue, aims to recruit officers to Nebraska by highlighting the state’s support for law enforcement, recreational opportunities and free college tuition program for law enforcement officials.

“Our message today, while very important in Nebraska, is really a message to the rest of America. Nebraska is the best state in the union to work as a law enforcement official,” Flood said.

In 2023, legislation from State Sen. Eliot Bostar made Nebraska the only state in the nation to provide law enforcement officials and dependents with free tuition to state universities, colleges and community colleges.

“We have staffing shortages in law enforcement, we have recruitment challenges, we have retention challenges, and so, we had to think outside the box and create something that would make Nebraska stand out,” Bostar said.

Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner said most departments in the state have 10 to 20 percent of their positions vacant.

“It's requiring us to look at some of the programs that we're doing that we might not have as high of a priority for and limit those, asking deputies to work overtime to cover those shifts we can't cover because of the vacancies, and so it puts a stress on the rest of the agency to fill the gaps that those vacancies are causing.”

On Tuesday, Flood met with more than 30 law enforcement officials from across the state and said he plans to continue to gather information to put together a recruitment plan.

Flood said the recruiting initiative will culminate in May to coincide with National Police Week, when thousands of officers come to Washington D.C.