Sheriff Wagner started his law enforcement career in 1976 at the age of 22 as a dispatcher for the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office. Soon after this he became a deputy sheriff and through the years he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and served in that position until becoming Sheriff. During his time as a deputy and sergeant, he worked in the Patrol Division, Warrant Division, was an Accident Reconstructionist and was a member of the Sheriff’s Office Tactical Response Unit, serving as the Team Leader for the unit.
During November 1994 Sheriff Wagner was elected to his first term as Lancaster County Sheriff. He has successfully run for office unopposed in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018. He won re-election in 2022 beginning his 28th year as Sheriff.
Sheriff Wagner is now the longest serving sheriff in the history of Lancaster County. Merle Karnopp was in office for 28 years from 1951 to 1979.
In 1995 Sheriff Wagner attended the 183rd Session of the FBI National Academy. Since attending the Academy, Sheriff Wagner has been a member of the FBI National Academy Associates and the Nebraska FBI NAA. In 2004-05 he served as the President of the Nebraska Chapter of the FBI National Academy. Sheriff Wagner is also a graduate of the 54th Session of the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar (LEEDS).
Sheriff Wagner remains active in the Nebraska Sheriffs’ Association and served as Association President in 2007. From law enforcement reform, to marijuana, to traffic safety - he continues to be an active advocate for policy and legislative issues to the benefit of Nebraska law enforcement and the communities we all serve. He is a former member of the Police Standards Advisory Council and is on the Board of Directors for the BraveBe Child Advocacy Center. He is a former Board of Directors member for the People’s Choice Federal Credit Union and was named as a Lincoln High School Distinguished Alumnus.
Under Sheriff Wagner’s leadership the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office has been able to grow and keep up with the changing times in law enforcement. During his time as Sheriff numerous specialized positions and units have been developed and/or modernized. These include the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, Criminal Interdiction Unit, Electronic Evidence Unit, Tactical Response Unit, Crash Team, Meth Lab Team, Crime Scene Techs, SRO program, Cedar’s youth projects, marine unit, and honor guard. Many of these units provide support and resources for other law enforcement agencies throughout Nebraska and beyond.
Most recently in 2021, Sheriff Wagner was inducted into the Nebraska Sheriff’s Association Hall of Fame.
Sheriff Wagner and his wife Rhonda have 3 sons and 3 daughters and 4 grandsons.