State Troopers Association Endorses Krist

Oct. 11, 2018, 4:45 a.m. ·

From left, Sen. Bob Krist, STAN President Brian Petersen and administrator Tara Johnson, and Sen. Lynne Walz (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

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The State Troopers Association of Nebraska is endorsing state Sen. Bob Krist, the Democratic candidate for governor, and criticizing incumbent Republican Pete Ricketts.

The Nebraska State Patrol was in the news a lot last year, with allegations of excessive use of force, sexual harassment, and high-level interference in internal investigations. Ricketts fired the leader he had appointed, Col. Brad Rice – a move the union supported.

But he also placed another six leaders of the Patrol on leave. And the Patrol has not reinstated a trooper charged in a fatal high speed chase, in spite of legal charges against him being dropped.

State Troopers Association President Brian Petersen said Ricketts’ disciplinary actions went too far. “Our state troopers work hard in dangerous, demanding jobs. They deserve leadership that is accountable and responsible; not a governor who passes the buck and tries to place blame on rank-and-file who are just doing their job,” Petersen said.

Krist welcomed the troopers’ endorsement. “I know that voting against the incumbent governor is not an easy thing to do in their capacity,” Krist said.

Find more stories and resources for the upcoming election on the NET News Campaign Connection 2018 website.

Petersen also said the Patrol needs a budget that will fund more troopers. Krist was noncommittal on that point, saying he would consider it.

State Patrol spokesman Cody Thomas said the Patrol currently has 424 sworn officers, down 65 from its peak in 2009.

Thomas added that 14 new officers will join the Patrol later this month, more frequent training camps are being added, and pay is being increased to improve recruiting.

Ricketts’ campaign spokesman Matthew Trail called Krist’s criticisms a “new low from a failed campaign.” Trail singled out Krist’s suggestion that more officers could be freed up by reducing the security detail around the governor, saying “The suggestion that Governor Ricketts should not be protected as the Nebraska State Patrol determines necessary for his safety is ridiculous.”