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Police pink slip on hold

Council to address issue Feb. 8 during mid-year budget review
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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A pink slip for one Lincoln police officer is on hold until the end of February, according to city staff. Three officers and one sergeant received layoff notices in June, to be effective Jan. 1 of this year, according to previous News Messenger reports. Since then, two sergeants and one officer have left the Lincoln Police Department, reducing the number of pink slips from four to one, according to Interim Police Chief Paul Shelgren. City Manager Jim Estep said the layoff of the one police officer has been postponed until the end of February. A discussion as to whether that officer will be laid off will happen during the Feb. 8 City Council meeting, according to Estep, when a mid-year budget review will be presented. “Based on that and how much (City Council) wants to put in reserves, we’ll be asking City Council for direction as to continue with the layoff of the one position left,” Estep said. Estep said there was a “cost savings associated” with the two sergeants and one officer who left, which could affect the layoff of the officer. “It’s my understanding the City Council wants to review at that first meeting in February to see if there’s anyway we can hold onto that position,” Shelgren said. “The officers who did leave were higher paying so there may be enough savings to hold onto that officer.” The News Messenger asked Shelgren how the departure of the three officers have affected the department. “It’s definitely difficult. Every time you lose somebody, the other officers have to pick up the slack and some of the little things start falling behind,” Shelgren said. “The little things that go first are organizing and working with Neighborhood Watch, crime prevention, youth services. We focus on emergency calls for service. Then things don’t get the follow up they should, like property crimes and petty thefts.” Shelgren said morale at the department “is as good as it can be.” “There is a lot of uncertainty out there, and the city’s budget is not helping, but they know they have a job today and a job to do today so they’re doing it,” Shelgren said. “Under the circumstances, they are working hard.” The police department is currently recruiting for volunteer reserve officers, according to Shelgren. “The whole purpose of a reserve officer is to be a back-up officer, the second in a car,” Shelgren said.