Over the decades, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office has had several homes. In 1873-74, a substantial masonry jail was built at 9th and K Streets in Lincoln. The sheriff’s quarters and administrative offices in the jail were supplemented by office space in the Lancaster County Courthouse, constructed in 1887. In 1967-68, construction was completed on a County-City Building to replace the Courthouse and jail, and the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office relocated to space on the lower level of the new building. Since the late 1970s, the Board of Commissioners, sitting as the Board of Corrections, has administered the jail through an appointed director.
County Building Renovation
In 1997, a massive renovation of the County-City Building into a new Justice and Law Enforcement Center was begun. The Sheriff’s Office moved to the first floor of Gold’s Galleria located at 11th and N Streets, with a satellite office in the Old Federal Building. The satellite office was established to house the Special Services Division in charge of movement of prisoners and providing security for the County and District Courts, which had also been moved into that building. Headquarters for the Sheriff’s Office in the Gold’s building consisted of the Administrative Support, Criminal Investigations and Civil Divisions, along with the main reception and records areas, while the Patrol Division remained at 1000 Oak Street.
On November 15, 1999, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office returned to the newly-renovated Justice and Law Enforcement Center, occupying the southwest corners of the first-floor and ground levels. Finally, the entire Sheriff’s Office was under one roof back on the two blocks occupied by the first jail and courthouse. The Justice and Law Enforcement Center, along with a newly constructed adjacent County-City Building, was dedicated in a Grand Opening and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony on May 5, 2000, with many local dignitaries in attendance.
Training & Education
In recent years, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office has continued its tradition of emphasizing the importance of training and education. The office has successfully sought and recruited college graduates as the primary applicant pool and conducts an extensive program of in-service training for deputies. The office developed a Statement of Mission, Values and Goals and an excellent Standard Operating Procedures manual. The Sheriff’s Office has excelled, in particular, in policy and practice pertaining to the investigation of child sexual assault and domestic violence cases. Service and enforcement of Protection Orders and investigation of child abuse and neglect are paramount in our service to the community.
The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office prides itself on supplying state-of-the-art equipment for its deputies, from mobile data computers in cruisers to computer mapping for crime analysis. The Sheriff’s Office has a state-wide reputation for excellence and has provided technical assistance and instructional materials on various topics to law enforcement throughout the United States.
The Office of Sheriff of Lancaster County has been held by a number of exemplary citizens of the community since 1861, but its accomplishments have been made possible only through the dedication and hard work of the deputy sheriffs and civilian employees who have served the Sheriff’s Office with honor. These men and women have committed themselves to public service, sometimes at considerable peril, and have distinguished themselves by innumerable acts of courage, integrity, intelligence, and determination. Their contribution to the quality of life enjoyed by the citizens of Lancaster County cannot be overstated.
Currently, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office is comprised of five divisions:
- Criminal Investigations
- Professional Standards
- Court Services
- Support Services
The Office of the Sheriff is held by Terry T. Wagner. Sheriff Wagner was first elected sheriff in November, 1994, and was re-elected in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018. The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office is the sixth largest law enforcement agency in Nebraska, with an operating budget of approximately 13.6 million dollars.