While the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police Department serves UNL, and the Lincoln Police Department focuses on the rest of the city, the two departments share a common goal: public safety.
Generally, the Lincoln police departments don’t work side-by-side on cases, one department will usually take the lead depending on if the reported incident happened on UNL property or not. But the City of Lincoln’s law enforcement departments work together on daily police calls and events like athletic games, according to John Backer, police operations captain for UNLPD. Together, they help keep the community safe.
“Back in the day, when I worked night shift downtown, something happens and UNLPD is there,” Erin Spilker, public information officer for LPD, said. “They’re listening and they’re following what we’re doing, too, and they’re always there to help look for people, jump in if we have a foot chase or a fight.”
UNLPD is able to put officers on special teams like narcotics that regularly work with other departments, according to Backer. Outside of those collaborations, he said helping other departments comes down to awareness of the day-to-day police calls.
“We can see and they can see the calls and the activity that’s going on where each other is working,” he said. “So if one of our officers is nearby an accident, we’ll stop by.”
Spilker said LPD also works with the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office often, especially since they work in the same building. Both Spilker and Backer said other Nebraska police departments like the Nebraska State Patrol and the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office collaborate within Lincoln.
“The day-in, day-out stuff, like on the street, everything is very fluid,” Spilker said. “A call comes in, things are going very fast, [the Nebraska State Patrol] are there at the drop of a hat. I mean, it’s unbelievable how the State Patrol’s aware of what we’re doing, what’s going on and they are there to help.”
Spilker said the departments will mostly share information using the Nebraska Information Analysis Center, housed by the Nebraska State Patrol. Backer said the NIAC is a way for the public to report suspicious activity, like the recent drone sightings across Nebraska.
Along with the NIAC, the police departments will share resources like surveillance footage and contact information, according to Spilker and Backer.
“We use [UNLPD] as a resource all the time because they have access to student records,” Spilker said. “If we need to reach out to victims or need help with contacting people then they’re able to assist in that way.”
Additionally, LPD has helped protect Lincoln on football game days since Backer said he could remember. Spilker said on-duty LPD officers work the city streets, while off-duty officers have the opportunity to help in the stadium.
No matter the situation, local law enforcement works together to get the job done, according to Spilker.
“The biggest thing is that it’s truly a brotherhood,” Spilker said. “That extends across the nation. When you know there is someone else in law enforcement, there is a respect and understanding that we’re, you know, in the same boat, so if we’re working together, it does work pretty smoothly.”