Mayor Chris Beutler today will present the Mayor's Award of Excellence for April to a team of Investigators from the gang unit of the Lincoln Police Department (LPD) — Steven Berry, Max Hubka, Cole Jennings and Dustin Lind. The award will be presented at 3 p.m. at the beginning of the City Council meeting at the County-City Building, 555 S. 10th Street. The monthly award recognizes City employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to the City.
The Officers were nominated in the category of productivity by Sgt. Jeff Sorensen for their work on three cases involving gang activity. Sgt. Sorensen said these cases illustrate the dedication these Officers have to creating a safer community.
Between February and March, the team coordinated a follow up investigation into a series of shootings and assaults occurring between two rival gangs. During the course of the investigation, the unit was instrumental in seizing two firearms, marijuana, a scale and packaging material. Team members also served two residential and four vehicle search warrants. They arrested four individuals for a variety of felony charges related to shooting into an occupied vehicle, use of a weapon to commit a felony, terroristic threats, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, and a concealed weapon.
During an unrelated investigation in March, Lind, Hubka and Berry assisted uniformed officers with an incident in which several known gang members chased a victim in a vehicle and purposefully rammed the vehicle they were driving into the victim's vehicle. Because of their assistance with this investigation, two more gang members were arrested for several felonies.
During a third investigation in March, the team began surveillance on another known gang member with a violent past. While serving a search warrant at his residence, they located about two pounds of marijuana, a scale and packaging material. The gang member and one of his associates were later arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
Sorensen says the unit is also responsible for investigating gang related incidents on a daily basis, gathering intelligence, conducting presentations and meeting with the community to build on the positive relationship the LPD has with the Lincoln residents.
An example of the Officers' community outreach is a late March meeting with Lefler Middle School students in the Community Learning Center program. During this time they played a 3 on 3 basketball tournament with the students, shared pizza and answered student questions about law enforcement.
The other categories in which employees can be nominated are customer relations, valor, safety and loss prevention. 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 award 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.