Mayor Chris Beutler said a recent act of vandalism should not be a reason to attack the Lincoln Police Department, and he called on the Republican National Committeeman from Nebraska to retract his statement about the incident.
"It is insulting to suggest that Lincoln Police Officers would ever let politics affect their work to protect and serve our entire community," Beutler said. "The Lincoln Police Department and its employees strive to meet the highest standards of excellence and I am extremely disappointed in the actions of those who would suggest otherwise without any basis in fact."
Early Tuesday, July 3, a brick was thrown through a window of the State Republican Party headquarters. Republican Party officials held a press conference later that day.
At the press conference, Republican National Committeeman J.L. Spray stated, "It is incumbent on our Mayor to enforce the law and to take action to investigate this crime and to follow through on it and so far there has been a lot of tepidness on part of the Police Department in Lincoln and I'm not sure why."
"An act of vandalism committed because of political disagreement is reprehensible and should never be tolerated. That's why the vandalism that occurred at the Republican Party Headquarters should be condemned by all," Beutler said.
"But Spray should not insinuate that our Police Department and my Administration base law enforcement on the party registration of those who report a crime," Beutler continued. "Our Administration has consistently demonstrated that the safety of all residents is our top priority. Spray knows better and should publicly retract his remarks."
Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister emphasized the investigation into the vandalism is continuing.
"Every report of a crime deserves our best efforts and this incident is not different," Bliemeister said. "Officers are continuing to canvass the area for witnesses, process physical evidence, and are working to obtain video surveillance. We will follow all leads to a logical conclusion and are asking the public to call Lincoln Police at 402-441-6000 or Lincoln Crimestoppers at 402-475-3600 with any information. The Lincoln Police Department takes seriously our responsibility to work within the criminal justice system to identify those responsible for crimes and hold them accountable."
Public Safety Director Tom Casady added some historical perspective regarding police investigation policy.
"In 24 years as Police Chief and Public Safety Director, my experience has been that mayors want to be notified of major cases and controversial incidents, and to receive an occasional high-level briefing about these," Casady said. "But none of the five mayors I have served in these capacities-neither Democrat nor Republican-has ever inserted himself or herself into the investigation in any manner whatsoever."
"The 4th of July reminds us each year that what unites us is far more powerful than what divides us as Americans," Beutler said. "I am proud to be part of a nation that not only tolerates dissent, but provides a political process to make dissent heard. However, vandalism can never be a substitute for political debate nor can we use incidents like this to score political points at the expense of others. When that happens, our unity is diminished."
"Mr. Spray shouldn't be exploiting this issue to further divisions. We should all unite behind the cause of political civility," Beutler concluded.