Tuesday, March 16, 2010
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Departing Lincoln Police Chief Erlenbush addresses council

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[March 16, 2010]  Monday night marked the end of a three-year term for the city of Lincoln's chief of police, Stuart Erlenbush.

InsuranceErlenbush arrived on the scene in the later part of 2006 as a consultant hired by the city to audit the police department after a series of complaints voiced by the state's attorney's office.

In May of 2007, after the resignation of Chief Robert Rawlins, Erlenbush was offered the job of police chief by then-Mayor Beth Davis-Kavelman. He promptly turned down the offer.

Later he would agree to serve as an interim chief for one year.

Now, nearly three years later, Erlenbush is ready to re-enter retirement.

Monday night, as his last official act as chief, he delivered a departing speech to the council, recognized all of the officers of the Lincoln Police Department and offered some special awards to a select few.

Below are excerpts from a copy of the chief's final words to the public.

Mayor, city council, department heads, distinguished guests, and the public, I get by with a little help from my friends.

I want to take the opportunity tonight to say some things about the Lincoln Police Department.

This is a great end for me folks, I get to retire for the second time, still in one piece.

Before I do that I want to introduce my wife Lynette. Behind every good man, they say there is a strong woman. I've got news for you; behind this strong woman is a meek and cowering man that knows how to take direction.

I guess I want to start out first by thanking the former mayor Beth Davis-Kavelman. She appointed me the first time, then the second time and that lasted a lot longer than I thought it would, but it's been fun. I've enjoyed it.

She's not here tonight, I did have a telephone call from her today, so I appreciate her confidence. I would like to thank all the council members, both present and past. I certainly appreciate your support.

I have learned a lot about city government I've learned a lot from each of you individuals here. You came to me often with concerns or complaints from the public and I think we've addressed those properly. You've got a tough job to do and you don't get a lot of thanks for it. So by gosh, I'm thanking you all tonight. I appreciate what you do.

I'd like to thank City Attorney Bates. We've had numerous and long conversations. You've given me some a lot of advice and some of it I ignored. The bottom line is Bill it was a privilege to work with you.

Mr. Plotner I want to thank you for all your kind words and encouragement. It was a pleasure working with you also.

I probably forgot somebody and if I did I apologize.

I want to thank the press who challenges us all to walk a straight line. If we don't we get our name in the paper or the agency in the paper. Press, you've been good to me, you've been good to the agency and I appreciate what you do.


So much for a year as interim chief huh? I'm finishing up just about three years now, and I tell you it has been my privilege to share a uniform with these officers.

I wore a couple of other uniforms. I wore a sheriff's uniform I was proud of that. I wore a state police uniform I was extremely proud of that and I am equally proud of the Lincoln City Police Uniform.

So I thank you folks for sharing this uniform with me.

On my first day on the job, I started with a department meeting a little while ago I ended it with a department meeting.

I told the officers when I came in that Lincoln Police Department was their agency and I would be the caretaker for a while. Little did I know it would be three years worth.

But I've enjoyed every minute of it. It is time for me to move on. I have a lot of other things I want to do with my life. Being a police officer has been truly a labor of love and working with you folks has made that even more enjoyable.

When I started as a result of the audit, I had a number of things I had in mind for the agency. But my primary goal was quite simply to leave the agency in better shapoe than I found the agency, and that is not a negative. I will tell you that I think that has been accomplished.

And, that has only been accomplished because of all these people you see in this room.

The job of a police chief is dependant on the officers getting on board, and these officers got on board.

I'm proud of them. Without there support and dedication, nothing would have been accomplished and that is the bottom line.

I simply set a course of action for the agency this was done by way of instituting minimum performance standards. The officers grumbled about them every now and then, but they still went out and did their jobs.

I received monthly reports on all their activity and I have to tell you across the board every officer did their job.

I had some primary areas of focus, the first training. Training is the backbone of a professional force. That is the bottom line. The Agency has got to continue doing that.

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Erlenbush went on to say that he's seen notable drops in citizen complaints about the department.

He noted investigations the department has handled, including murder and aggravated kidnapping, again praising the officers for their hard work.

(Click on graph for larger image.)

He handed out a graph showing notable improvements in police activities over the last three years. He said traffic stops had risen 78.6 percent; tickets and warnings increased 81.4 percent.

"I don't know if you're impressed or not," Erlenbush commented, "but I am."

Accidents are down 22.8 percent over the three-year period. Erlenbush credited that to officers on the streets making those stops and getting drivers off the road before an accident occurred.


He also noted the calls for service, saying that "if anybody wants to say that the Lincoln City Police Department sits around and doesn't do anything, they need to look at this."

In 2009 the police department received a total of 21,820 calls for service, an increase of 56.1 percent over 2007.

As his last act Erlenbush awarded five medals and awards to members of law enforcement:

  • Cpl. Robert Sherren was given the Officer of the Year Medal for 2009.

  • Detective Sgt. Paul Adams received a Medal of Merit for exemplary performance, as did Deputy Chief Michael Geriets. Geriets was praised for his invaluable role as the chief's deputy.

  • Cpl. Jim Rehmann received a Medal of Honor as acknowledgement of his service to his county in Afghanistan.

  • Patrolman Mike Fruge was given a Medal of Valor for his role in the arrest of Michael Knuth.

  • Logan County Sheriff Steve Nichols was recognized for honorable service for his role in the Gee Family Homicide Task Force investigations and the subsequent arrest of multiple suspects.

Erlenbush addressed all the officers:

"It has been my privilege and pleasure to serve you as your chief. It has been a personal honor to share the uniform. The Lincoln Police Department is a very good agency with dedicated officers.

"I've had the good fortune to travel around the country and meet a lot of police officers in many different jurisdictions," he continued. "The last thing I do when I leave a jurisdiction and those police officers is to simply thank them for their service."

He ended by saying, "Tonight I thank each of you for your service: for what you do today and what you will do in the future." He then asked that everyone give the officers a round of applause.

When Erlenbush was finished, Mayor Keith Snyder spoke briefly, saying, "I know you didn't want any fanfare for yourself tonight, but on behalf of the city, I want to give you this plaque."

The mayor read the plaque aloud, which said: "To Stuart Erlenbush in recognition and appreciation of dedicated service to the citizens of the city of Lincoln as Police Chief May 2007 to March 2010."

The mayor ended by saying, "Since you didn't want any fanfare, we'll call it non-fanfare cake and non-fanfare coffee out in the hallway."

When Erlenbush offered his resignation in November 2009, he stated that he came out of retirement to take the chief's position and that he has enjoyed it, but he's been in law enforcement 31 years and is ready to give it up.

He said he hopes to rebuild his private consultant business and spend time as most retired people do: doing things he just really wants to do and enjoying life.



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