Mayor Chris Beutler presented the Mayor's Award of Excellence for March to Sergeant Jeff Bucher, a Detective with the Criminal Investigations Unit of the Police Department.
The monthly award recognizes City employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to the City. The award was presented at the beginning of Monday's City Council meeting.
Bucher has worked for the City since August 1990. Captain Jon Sundermeier nominated him in the categories of productivity and safety for his work on a 2009 road rage incident in which a man was slashed multiple times, nearly killing him. Because the victim was traumatized, he provided inconsistent accounts. Video from a gas station showed the suspect's vehicle to be a rare model of Ford Ranger pickup. Bucher investigated many Crimestopper tips and possible suspect vehicles over several months but was unable to develop a viable suspect.
The following year, a Crimestopper tip provided vehicle information and named three suspects. One suspect sold the truck within days of the incident. Bucher located the vehicle in Iowa and went there to document its appearance and to search it for evidence. The truck was a match to the suspect vehicle. The tipster also indicated one of the suspects cut a finger in the attack. Bucher confirmed that the day after the assault, one of the suspects had a laceration treated at a hospital.
Bucher started learning as much as he could about the suspects -- a father and his two adult sons. DNA evidence from the truck did not yield a profile, so the case hinged on the interviews of the suspects. During Bucher's interview, one of the sons implicated his father in the assault. The father did not confess but was arrested in 2011.
Sundermeier wrote, "One word describes this case - perseverance. At times, there was little to work on and the chances to solve it seemed bleak. When the big break came, patience and strategy were needed to maximize the chances of clearing the case. Sgt. Bucher invested a tremendous amount of work in this case, pursuing every possible lead until he cleared an extremely difficult case with an arrest. This was outstanding work by a dedicated detective reflecting the character and work ethic of Detective Bucher."
The other categories in which employees can be nominated are customer relations, loss prevention and valor. Consideration also may be given to nominations that demonstrate self-initiated accomplishments or those completed outside of the nominee's job description.
All City employees are eligible for the Mayor's Award of Excellence except for elected and appointed officials. Individuals or teams can be nominated by supervisors, peers, subordinates and the general public. Nomination forms are available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: personnel) or from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Personnel Department, which oversees the awards program.
All nominations are considered by the Mayor's Award of Excellence Committee, which includes a representative with each union and a non-union representative appointed by the Mayor. Award winners receive a $50 U.S. savings bond, a day off with pay and a plaque. Monthly winners and nominees are eligible to receive the annual award, which comes with a $250 U.S. savings bond, two days off with pay and a plaque.