Interim police chief appointed

Shelgren fills in for the second time
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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A decision was made Tuesday about who will serve as Lincoln’s next top cop. Lincoln Police Lt. Paul Shelgren will serve as Lincoln’s interim chief of police after current interim Police Chief Joel Neves departs on Jan. 21. Neves has been the city’s police chief since May 2010, following the departure of former police Chief Brian Vizzusi in February of that same year. During Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Shelgren was voted in as the Lincoln Police Department’s interim police chief. “The public safety committee with members Mayor Paul Joiner and Council member Stan Nader met on Jan. 5 to discuss the options available,” City Manager Jim Estep said. “A number of options were discussed but looking at the most obvious option was to internally appoint an existing employee.” Estep said the cost of hiring a full-time permanent police chief could range from $169,733 to $230,060, which includes benefits. By appointing Shelgren as the interim police chief, the police department budget will see a savings of $152,391, according to Estep. Estep said recruitment of a permanent police chief will not take place until a new budget has been adopted “that includes sufficient funding to support the cost of a permanent police chief.” “Lt. Shelgren has acted in this capacity between departure of the last police chief,” Estep said. “With the appointment of Lt. Shelgren as the interim police chief, the city would receive experienced management leadership at a cost much less than what would be incurred with the hiring of a new police chief including salary and benefits.” Estep said Shelgren would return to his duties as lieutenant once a permanent police chief is hired. “I would like to commend Joel Neves for the job he’s done. He has just been an outstanding addition and leader to the police department in the time he’s been here,” Estep said. Resident Richard MacKirdy questioned why the city has chosen to appoint an interim police chief now when they chose not to do so last April. The question was not answered by the council and city staff. All but one city council member was on board with the decision to appoint Shelgren as the interim police chief. “I think there is a need for external leadership at times,” Councilman Spencer Short said. “I do not support this decision.” Shelgren said he would serve as interim police chief as long as needed. “If it’s in the interest of the city and the community and officers, I’m here to support whatever it takes to get the job done,” Shelgren said. Neves said Shelgren is “very capable of managing and leading the department.