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Concerned citizens suggest police reform to Nebraska Legislature

Posted at 6:10 PM, Jun 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-08 19:14:54-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Members of the Nebraska Legislature’s Judiciary Committee did something a bit unique Monday.

While the unicameral is currently out of session, the committee just wrapped up a special hearing in Omaha centered on the state’s justice system.

One by one members of the public came forward to talk about their experiences with police.

That includes Alisha Shelton, a former candidate for U.S. Senate, who said she was maced by police at the age of 13.

“I now have PTSD. It has taken a year to be comfortable, as a woman with two masters degrees, to be comfortable around police officers,” says Shelton.

Shelton also says she wants to see a bystander protection law, so citizens can step in when they see police misconduct.

“I don’t know what to do if you have a knee on somebody’s neck and I’m watching them die. And so I want protection for bystanders to say, ‘if you’re not going to check yourself, if you are draining the life out of somebody, I’m going to tell you to stop,” says Shelton.

Others spoke on reforms they believe would make the state more equitable.

“We also need extensive psychological evaluations for all law enforcement. There’s some people that should not be cops. And they know it,” says Terrell McKinney, candidate for Nebraska Legislature.

Mia Crawford-Gray wants the city of Omaha to bring back a police auditor who would investigate officers and questionable incidents.

Former Mayor Mike Fahey fired the last auditor in 2006, and never re-hired one.

“That person needs to be independent and be protected so that what [happened] to our previous one doesn’t happen again,” says Crawford-Gray.

Some went as far as asking for a complete review of police department budgets, saying some of the money could be better spent elsewhere.

“We could really invest in public education. We could actually have social workers, EMT’s, or nurses, who are prepared to help someone in crisis, instead of relying on police,” says Jay Irwin, a UNO Professor and Ralston school board member, who said he was speaking as a concerned citizen.

The committee is set to have another eight hour hearing on the same topic Tuesday in Lincoln.