Should the Sheriff Abide by the Law?

(Reprinted from Ninety-Five%, the Nebraskans Unafraid donor newsletter)
Should county law enforcement abide by state law?
The answer, of course, is “yes.”
Dunning with an American flag
Except in Nebraska, where the correct answer might be something like, “Well, it depends on who you ask.”
In Douglas and Lancaster counties, sheriffs do not allow registrants to sign verification forms when they fulfill their reporting requirements under LB285 (2009). Instead, the entire process is electronic and the registrant does not sign anything. This effectively forces registrants to be in a state of noncompliance with the law which specifically states:
“The verification form shall be signed by the person required to register under the act and state whether the address last reported to the division is still correct” (NE.Rev.Stat §29-4006 (7)).
Bruning with an American flag
Registrants are justifiably worried because they have no way to document that they have reported as the law requires. Douglas County says that it has video of everything that happens. But for everyone’s protection, it would be good for registrants to keep their own copies of documentation. It’s too easy for just one copy of a record to be lost.
Nebraskans Unafraid (NU) and FACTS followed up on registrant concerns by contacting the Nebraska State Patrol. The Patrol agreed that the law requires a signature on a form, and said it expects sheriff’s offices to implement systems allowing signatures on forms.
Wagner with an American flag
Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning disagrees and says the signature problem is all the state’s fault.
“They created the website that we use, and the fact that they forgot to put in some sort of receipt, is a fault of their agency, not ours,” Dunning wrote in response to our inquiry. “There is nothing in state statute that says the sheriff s offices are required to do a signature page. We would certainly do one for you or any of your members, if we had the ability to do so from the NE State Patrol website”
Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner responded by saying simply that his office operates in accord with state law. While we were very happy to learn that, we sent a second latter asking Wagner to specify whether registrants use ink pens to sign paper copies of their verification forms.
We also forwarded all of the correspondence to the state attorney general’s office, asking if he thinks that the sheriffs ought to abide by state law. That was months ago. We haven’t heard back.

Published by nufearless

Nebraskans Unafraid is committed to making our communities safer by ensuring that lawmakers and policymakers do not support laws that cause homelessness, joblessness and damage to families.

2 thoughts on “Should the Sheriff Abide by the Law?

  1. okay as much as I hate to stand up for the sheriffs departments in Douglas and Lancaster counties. I have to tell you that since the Nebraska State patrol initiated the new web portal that they use for registration, that there is a lot of confusion about the need to sign the forms. I live in SALINE County in the first month of it was put into use. They had me come around back and try and sign the form electronically, (using the mouse on their computer) which it refused to do. they did print me out a copy of the form and the darn thing was like eight pages long . the next reporting time they told me that the State patrol had told them that I was not required to sign the form. And that they were not supposed to print out the form so that I had a copy. This according to the State patrol . I have had absolutely no problems with the Saline County Sheriff's Department. and at this point I would tend to believe them over the state patrol division that handles sex offenders. At this point it might be wise to file a Mandamas since the state agency by its actions are not following the laws. This would be something to throw at the ACLU and tell them to get on top of it and see if they're worthwhile. basically what a mandamus does if the court agrees with the filing is to tell the state agency that they are in violation of law and that the courts will want it to end and will now be watching them ([Latin, We comand.] A writ or order that is issued from a court of superior jurisdiction that commands an inferior tribunal, corporation, Municipal Corporation, or individual to perform, or refrain from performing, a particular act, the performance or omission of which is required by law as an obligation.)

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