John O'Grady

Officer John O'Grady poses for a portrait outside of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police Department on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

In his 31-year career with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police Department, John O’Grady has developed both an eye for closed-circuit footage and a passion for the campus community. Now, he is being recognized as the 2019 Crime Stoppers Officer of the Year.

O’Grady is a patrol officer and has worked for UNLPD since he graduated from UNL. In addition to his regular patrol duties, he is also a firearms instructor and an armorer with the department. O’Grady said the award is not only for his career within the department, but also his contributions to the Lincoln/Lancaster County Crime Stoppers.

“The Crime Stoppers program has grown over the years, especially with the use of closed circuit television,” O’Grady said. “As technology has progressed … so has our ability to use them to gain imagery related to crimes.”

If UNLPD does not recognize a criminal, O’Grady said they submit the footage to Crime Stoppers to put the word out to the public and possibly get a tip back. UNLPD Police Operations Captain John Backer said O’Grady is very adept with the closed-circuit television system and will assist other officers with finding camera angles and stringing footage together.

“It’s very admirable of Officer O’Grady to use a resource not just for his own benefit but to benefit and teach other officers as well,” Backer said.

Backer said Crime Stoppers recognizes an officer from UNLPD, the Lincoln Police Department and the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office every year. This year, he nominated O’Grady, who he said was a clear choice.

O’Grady said that closed-circuit television, or CCTV, has developed greatly over his career, and he has developed a very adept knowledge of how to use it. He said CCTV is commonly used for accidents in parking garages. He said he also strings together footage to help find suspects in vandalism, bike theft and property theft cases. O’Grady also said the CCTV system is useful in the current investigation of the vehicle thefts on campus.

O’Grady also said he loves the service aspect of his job and how it is different everyday. In order to adjust to their evolving duties, O’Grady said the department is in a constant cycle of training. Such trainings, O’Grady said, include things such as active shooter response, fair and impartial policing and Title IX training.

“The training runs the gamut of the whole year, and it’s a continuous improvement,” O’Grady said. 

O’Grady said he values the campus community he has come to love in his three decades of service. He said the police department strives to serve the students, staff and faculty to the best of its ability and create a safe learning and working environment. 

“That [community] is the most satisfying part of my job,” O’Grady said. “Creating a safe environment for our students and staff and trying to work together to create a community.”