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Fast-growing city in Sarpy County does not have its own police department

Posted at 8:37 PM, Apr 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-01 21:37:50-04

GRETNA, Neb. (KMTV) — Gretna's growing and has been growing for a while. But you might be surprised to learn that, despite its growth, the city still does not have its own police force.

Lance Molina has lived in Gretna for more than 30 years. He said in his time living there, Gretna did not have its own police force. And he recalls a personal experience from two years ago where he wished there was a city police force.

"There was actually an individual getting into my car at night trying to steal stuff from it," Molina said.

Thankfully, Molina said nearby neighbors came to help before it could get worse.

"Luckily, a resident rather than a police officer was there to chase the suspect away."

He said the time is now for a police department.

"If we would have had a police department patrolling the neighborhoods, then it would deter that kind of activity," Molina said.

For decades, the city of Gretna has contracted with the Sarpy County Sheriff's Office to provide policing services. Those services cost the city over $75,000 a month.

The Sarpy County Sheriff's Office has one dedicated cruiser that patrols 24 hours a day and up to three cruisers patrolling throughout the city during the daytime hours.

"Theoretically, we have someone much closer to Gretna than we would, La Platte, for example, which is another part of the county," Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis said.

So far this year, the Sarpy County Sheriff has averaged a five minute and 14 second response time for assisting fire and rescue in Gretna. And three minutes and 19 seconds for personal injury crashes.

"Throughout the county, if you look, you'll see that our response times understandably because it's not a city, probably take a little bit longer. It takes us less time to get to the city of Gretna because we're closer," Davis said.

City Administrator Paula Dennison acknowledges that there does need to be a police force in Gretna. But said, right now, the city isn't prepared financially or planning wise.

"There's a lot on the very front end. It's very front-end heavy financially and we have not taken a look at that yet."

Dennison told me she hopes Gretna can be fully staffed with their own police force in five to seven years.

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