Changing Times

The last few decades have witnessed the evolution of an office stretching to meet the public expectations of training and professionalism, service and response to the rural community, and burgeoning responsibilities to the Courts and public safety. In less than the time line set out below, the Sheriff's Office has moved from posses to radios, from index cards to national data bases, from carbon paper to computers to GPS. Every sheriff in the last 5 decades put something in motion to better position his office for what was waiting ahead.

  • 1967 - The Sheriff's Office increased its fleet from 3 to 11 cars, plus a helicopter, trackster, wrecker, three narcotics cars and six additional cars for warrant service, for a total of 23 vehicles. The fleet had increased to 58 vehicles by 2003.
  • 1970 - The Sheriff's Office started using a "high band" frequency for inter-department communication. "Low band" was used for the state-wide sheriffs' radio network linking LSO with other sheriff's departments and towns.
  • 1971 to 1972 - The school year saw the Sheriff's Office implement its first School Resource Officer Program through funding from the Federal Region II Crime Commission. The program evolved into the current DARE Program.
  • 1974 - The Sheriff's Office leased a building at 300 South Coddington with approval from the County Board and put into operation its own maintenance facility for vehicles.
  • 1979 - Under Sheriff Dale Adams, the Sheriff's Office changed its organizational structure to three divisions: Courts, Operations and Special Services. Each division was supervised by its own Captain.
  • 1980 - Sheriff Adams requested and was granted authorization from the County Board to create a Lancaster County Sheriff's Reserve Force, consisting of a maximum of 30 commissioned reserve deputies. The reserve program was disbanded in 1988.
  • 1985 - The Sheriff's Office moved its garage facility to the West Gate Complex at 444 Cherrycreek Road. Space at the complex was shared with the County Engineer's Office.
  • 1990 - Under Sheriff Ron Tussing, the Sheriff's Office changed its organizational structure to five divisions: Administrative Support, Special Services, Criminal Investigations, Patrol and Civil.
  • 1991 - Sheriff Tussing was appointed by the Governor as Nebraska State Patrol Superintendent. Thomas K. Casady, then Chief Deputy Sheriff, was appointed by the County Board to fill the remainder of Sheriff Tussing's term as Sheriff.
  • 1994 - Sheriff Thomas K. Casady left the Sheriff's Office to become Lincoln's Chief of Police.
  • 1995 - The Sheriff's Office Patrol Division moved from shared space at the West Gate Complex into its own newly-remodeled satellite facility located at 1000 Oak Street. An Open House was held February 23, 1996, which included tours of the office, lineup and training room, lockers and weight room. A portion of the new facility was a fenced-in area for storage of property, parking, and collection of evidence. The Patrol Division remained at 1000 Oak Street until December 1, 1999.

Sheriff Turnover

A traumatic period for the Sheriff's Office began January 11, 1994, when Sheriff Thomas K. Casady resigned to become Lincoln's Chief of Police. This left a void to be filled, as Sheriff Casady's term did not expire until January 1, 1995. The County Board, given the arduous task of replacing Sheriff Casady during an election year, advertised for applicants, and several applications were received.

Following a diligent search, including interviews and background checks, the Board appointed John Packett, the Chief of Police from La Vista, Nebraska, to fill the remainder of Sheriff Casady's term and then run for sheriff. Sheriff Packett was sworn in on February 1, 1994, introductions were made and tours given. In an unusual and controversial move, the next morning Sheriff Packett called Chief Deputy William E Jarrett and announced that he was resigning. Sheriff Packett has since become known as "Sheriff For A Day."

Sheriff Van Pelt

Following Sheriff Packett's resignation, the County Board decided it would be in the best interest of the Sheriff's Office to appoint retired District Court Judge Samuel Van Pelt to fill the remaining 11 months of the term. Sheriff Van Pelt took office March 18, 1994, but declared that he had no intention of running for the office of sheriff in the November election.

Therefore, it was agreed that Van Pelt would resign in mid-November, obviating the need to attend law enforcement certification training. The County Board agreed to appoint whoever was elected by the voters on November 8, 1994, to take office immediately rather than waiting until January 1, 1995, to do so. LSO Sergeant Terry T. Wagner was elected sheriff and was sworn in November 22, 1994, to fill the unexpired term of Samuel Van Pelt, effective November 24, 1994, thus ending an unsettled time for the Sheriff's Office.