28 Neb. cops suspended for watching videos on duty

Chief also will make the officers retake their oaths

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Almost 9 percent of Lincoln’s police force will be suspended without pay for watching videos instead of patrolling or doing other work, Police Chief Tom Casady said Wednesday.
The five sergeants and 23 officers – who were working the department’s third shift in the late night and early morning hours -face between one and 10 days of suspension, depending on their involvement, the chief said.
The suspensions will be staggered and should not affect the department’s minimum staffing or require any other officers to work overtime, Casady said.
“They’ll have to be scheduled over a fairly lengthy time period. I told my captains that I’d like to have all of this wrapped up by the end of the summer.”
The officers were watching movies, television shows and sporting events using online streaming and DVDs, Casady said. Most of the time, they were using work computers in the department’s small substations around the city.
They left their dispatch radios on and responded to incidents during that time, the chief said.
He doesn’t think any of the videos were pornographic.
“I’m pretty sure that we have gotten the truth from people,” he said about the content of the videos. “Everyone at LPD knows that if you lie, you’re fired.”
He learned of the situation about 10 days ago, when an officer alerted a superior, he said. Casady thinks the practice started “in earnest” in 2008.
The officers involved all waived their right to a due process hearing. Instead, Casady plans to meet with each individually.
He’s already talked with about half of those involved, and he is making all of the officers reswear their oaths.
“It’s not fact-finding,” he said of the meetings. “This is hearing from the chief about how wrong what they did was.
“I’ve kind of gone through the stages: mad as a wet hen, embarrassed and yeah, a little bit dumbfounded. This is just not what we do.” He thinks the officers “lost their bearings” he said.
He apologized for the situation on his blog Wednesday evening. “I am embarrassed,” he wrote. “The ethical compass of a significant number of Lincoln police officers broke down, and led them astray. It is my job to ensure that this type of thing does not happen, and I have failed.”
Casady also said he apologized to Mayor Chris Beutler.
“Obviously, I support him 100 percent,” Beutler said Wednesday. “You just can’t let these things begin to happen, and so it’s good to clamp down on it right away.”
The department has taken technical measures to prevent such situations from happening in the future, Casady said.
He would not release the names of the officers involved.
“They’ll have to tell you, because I’m not,” he said.

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