(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.
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.
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