Our Omaha drug charges lawyer blog often covers what’s happening inside specific agencies and task forces. Some time ago, we covered the story of one particular task force known as WING losing its funding, and what that meant for law enforcement and arrests. As it turns out, some of the agents involved in that task force decided to take matters into their own hands after funding was pulled and have landed themselves in quite a bit of hot water because of it.
WING Lost Funding After 28 Years
The Western Nebraska Intelligence & Narcotics Group (WING) is responsible for more than 7,000 arrests in the nearly 30 years it has been in existence. In short, it’s a specialized task force with multiple Nebraskan counties working together, largely funded by grant money and created to ensure leads on drug crimes get followed up on before they go cold. Because it’s been around so long and has historically received about $100,000 to remain in operation, departments expected the funding to continue and already had jobs and programs established anticipating the funds. When word was given that WING wouldn’t be funded this year because of “continued non-compliance with grant requirements,” law enforcement agents didn’t take it well. The group responsible for awarding funds had been moving toward a community focus and away from drug enforcement; a key distinguishing factor in funding.
Three are Accused of Harassment and Abuse of Power
Cheyenne County Sheriff John Jenson, Scottsbluff Police Chief Kevin Spencer, and Scotts Bluff County Sheriff Mark Overman have been accused of harassment, intimidation, and abuse of power. The trio allegedly retaliated against state employees who work for the Nebraska Crime Commission, which is the agency responsible for awarding the Justice Administration Grant WING typically received.
According to reports, the law enforcement agents used the Nebraska Criminal Justice Information System (NCJIS) to research employees who had played a role in deciding not to fund WING. Data in the system is purely for official investigative purposes and includes things like arrest records, fingerprints, warrants, and other personal details. The employees further report agents phoned them at home and called them “cop haters,” among other things. One employee was also allegedly targeted for having a pro-medical marijuana post on her Facebook page. It’s believed that one or more of the trio was involved in forwarding the post to the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office and following up with repeated calls in an attempt to have an investigation against her opened up.
Crime Commission Gives a “Warning” to Employees
Nebraska Crime Commission executive director Darrell Fisher says that they were aware of agents abusing NCJIS for personal gain before a lawsuit was filed. “We have some things to shore up,” he acknowledges. “We need to remind law enforcement that NCJIS is strictly to be used for law enforcement purposes.”
Retain an Experienced Omaha Drug Charges Lawyer
Law enforcement agents make mistakes. Sometimes they’re honest oversights and sometimes they’re outright abuses of power. Pointing out their errors in an investigation is one technique that’s quite successful in court. Sometimes, it even gets a case thrown out before trial. If you’re in need of an experienced Omaha drug charges lawyer who knows when this and other strategies are likely to be effective, book a no-obligation consultation with Daniel Stockmann by completing the form on this page or calling (844) 906-0641.