Mayor Chris Beutler today will present the Mayor's Award of Excellence for June to Officers Steve Berry and Dustin Lind from the Center Team of the Lincoln Police Department (LPD). The award will be presented at the beginning of today's City Council meeting at 2:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 555 S. 10th St. The monthly award recognizes City employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to the City.
Berry has worked for the City since 2011, and Lind has worked for the City since 2009. They were nominated by Sergeant Brad Junker in the categories of customer relations and productivity for creating the specialized Gang Interdiction Team (GIT). Junker said creating and implementing the GIT required sacrifice by the two officers as well as their families, peers and command staff.
Junker said the detail was originally designed to last 28 days and required the officers to change schedules. The GIT began April 10, and the officers' goal was to gather as much information as possible on gang members, their street names, affiliations and cross affiliations and areas of influence. The officers also participated in monthly meetings of other agencies to establish a greater gang intelligence base City-wide.
In one case, the officers learned about a possible retaliation shooting involving rival gang members from Omaha and Lincoln set to occur at a concert in a local club. They worked with the club on additional security and created a specific Problem Oriented Policing Project. The detail resulted in several citations and arrests, but there was no violence among gang members and any of the other approximately 700 concert goers. During their detail, the officers were responsible for about 194 hours of surveillance time, 30 misdemeanor and three felony arrests, the clearance of three warrants and the issuance of eight traffic citations.
After the specialized detail, Berry and Lind continued their surveillance of gang members through social media sites. About a week after the detail ended, they found photos of a known gang member posted in which he was holding several firearms, some of which appeared to be illegal. Further research showed he was a convicted felon from another state, and it was illegal for him to possess any firearms. LPD's S.W.A.T. team successfully served a warrant, and four individuals were arrested and charged with six felonies, one misdemeanor, one narcotics infraction and one bench warrant. Four firearms were removed from the street.
Junker wrote, "It has been my honor to supervise the work done by Officer Berry and Officer Lind during their tour as the GIT officers. They are to be commended for their innovative and proactive approach to policing the world of gang violence."
The other categories in which employees can be nominated are loss prevention, safety 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: hr) or from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Human Resources 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 gift certificate, a day off with pay and a plaque. All monthly winners and nominees are eligible to receive the annual award, which comes with a $250 gift certificate, two days off with pay and a plaque.