Gering council: Time to move forward on hiring a new Police Chief

Gering city council members said Monday evening they need to move forward on hiring a new Police Chief because there is not enough time to answer all the questions associated with a proposed countywide law enforcement agency.

Sheriff Mark Overman told the council the proposal he and Chief Deputy Jim Gaspers presented at the request of city and county leaders would provide more coverage for Gering, Scottsbluff and rural citizens and offer some savings. But Gering council member Larry Gibbs said items like the purchase of cars to get to a one man, one car system favored by the county and Gering would eat up much of the savings.

Even though Overman is a professional law officer, Gibbs was concerned about the future and the possibility of having the county law enforcement under a Sheriff who by law is not required to have professional qualifications like a Police Chief. Gibbs and council members Jill McFarland and Julie Morrison also said they were worried about a promotional and salary structure that would not give the city's officers credit for their seniority and rank.

All the council members also said they would need time to get constituent input on the idea. Gering citizens have not been supportive of consolidation proposals in the past. Overman admitted nothing like what he was proposing was in place anywhere else in Nebraska.

McFarland noted even if the city supported the countywide law enforcement idea, it would take at least 18 months to 24 months to get everything ironed out to the satisfaction of all the parties.

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