Lincoln to review use of force policies following protests, riots

Lincoln officials said Friday they will review use for force policies for law enforcement. 
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Protesters could be heard chanting 'Don't shoot' as they faced off with officers.

Lincoln officials said Friday they will review use for force policies for law enforcement.

The announcement comes after several days of peaceful protests, which were marred by nights of violence in which people – including at least 24 police officers – were injured and tens of millions of dollars in damage was done to businesses.

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said the move is to make sure the policies are in line with the city’s “number one priority” – the safety of residents.

Officials will also be reviewing ordinances that govern the city’s current Citizen Police Advisory Board, and seek to incorporate other best practices including the manner in which use of force complaints are received and reviewed.

Finally, Gaylor Baird announced several listening sessions – the first of which was held Friday afternoon at the Malone Center – will be convened to garner feedback from community members, local leaders and elected officials. One of the sessions will be held next Friday via Zoom and will include Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister and at least one member of the city council.

“Each of us must listen, learn and act,” Gaylor Baird said.

Bliemeister said this serves as an opportunity to take a “deep dive” into his department’s policies and procedures. He says LPD reviews them annually and whenver case law and other legislation changes.

Bliemeister said he is focused on strengthening police-community ties in Lincoln, and thinks these moves provide a chance for that bond to grow even stronger.

“You have my commitment on that going forward,” he said.

Gaylor Baird said there will not be a curfew in Lincoln on Friday night, and that the state of emergency she declared earlier this week related to the violence has expired.

Gaylor Baird says she thought the previous curfews would prevent an escalation of violence and destruction in the city, and that people would abide by it. She said, as a white person, her “lens on the world” prevented her from seeing how a curfew would cause problems – but that it fostered mistrust and increased tensions.

 

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