By Governor Dave Heineman
The Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice was established in 1969. Better known as the Nebraska Crime Commission, it is lead by Mike Behm and today serves as an umbrella agency for criminal justice programs in the state.
The main responsibilities of the Crime Commission include overseeing the training of Nebraska’s law enforcement officers and administering state and federal grants for criminal justice and crime victims programs. Crime Commission staff maintain and track information on crimes and the people who commit them, set jail standards, and inspect the 75 detention facilities throughout city, county and state government.
The Law Enforcement Training Center, located in Grand Island, provides the specialized knowledge and training needed by law enforcement officers across the state. Training center staff oversees curriculum, leads classes and continuing education programs, and inspects the other training academies used by Omaha and Lincoln police officers and the troopers of the Nebraska State Patrol. The center was renovated and expanded in 2001 when the State Patrol Training Academy was co-located with the training center.
Located on a 40 acre campus, the training center has dormitory and dining facilities, modern classrooms, a driving track, an outdoor firing range, and a police service dog facility. It is also home of the Nebraska Law Enforcement Memorial which was built to pay tribute to the sacrifices made by 130 officers in our state who died or were killed in the line of duty.
The grants division of the Crime Commission manages 14 separate federal and state grant programs, some of which provide funding for Nebraska’s drug and violent crime task forces, provide assistance to crime victims, help improve response to domestic violence and sexual assault cases in the state, assist youth involved in the juvenile justice system, and help find alternatives to incarcerating young people.
A major responsibility assigned to the Crime Commission is providing the more than 5,000 law enforcement officers in the state and other users with data on criminal activity across Nebraska. The Criminal Justice Information System is a robust and powerful tool that allows for the exchange of information among Nebraska’s criminal justice and law enforcement agencies. It helps officers share data in a secure and efficient way.
Additionally, the Crime Commission collects and publishes criminal offense and arrest data for the state, assists communities in their crime prevention efforts, and works with crime victims to provide financial help to those who suffer physical injuries and are not covered by insurance. The agency helps the victims of crime know the status of their offenders through an innovative notification system.
Known as Victim Information and Notification Everyday or VINE, this system provides phone or e-mail updates on changes in an offender’s custody status. 2010 marks the tenth anniversary of VINE. Last year, more than 25,000 requests were processed automatically, and there were more nearly 160,000 searches completed by phone or online using this system.
In addition to partnerships with law enforcement and community groups across the state, the Crime Commission provides support for Nebraska’s Community Corrections Council, which develops standards for community corrections efforts such as pre-trial diversion and treatment programs, day and evening reporting centers and specialized courts.
The Crime Commission strives to be a leader in criminal and juvenile justice while helping support the victims of crime in our state. Their work requires close cooperation and coordination with Nebraska’s law enforcement officers and other professionals in our criminal justice system. I have a great appreciation for their work, which is a key asset in making our state a safe place to live and to work.