Regional meeting sheds some light on police computer confiscation

    At a meeting last week that included Emergency Managers from southwest Nebraska, new information was shed on the recent confiscation of Imperial police computers by Chase County officials.
    Namely, that an audit was never the reason for the taking of the computers in late July as Imperial Police Chief Ryan Wisnieski was told by County Emergency Manager Duane Dreiling.
    When asked about it at the Sept. 20 Southwest Planning, Exercise, Training Region (SWPETR) meeting, Dreiling responded, “It was discussed between the sheriff and I and he felt that it was easier just to say we were going to inventory or audit instead of bringing out the pornography part of it.
    “He felt it was easier to get the laptops that way without a lot of pull back on it,” Dreiling said.
    Dreiling is the group’s chairman, but wasn’t involved in conducting the meeting last week.
    Besides Dreiling, several other city and county officials were in attendance at the McCook meeting, including County Attorney Arlan Wine, City Attorney Josh Wendell and City Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland.
    When queried if asking for the laptops in the way it was done is something Emergency Managers have the authority to do, Sheriff Jim Brueggeman of Grant, who is the SWPETR fiscal officer, said it’s clear the title to the police laptops and Ipad is vested in the SWPETR.
    They were purchased in 2012 with federal Homeland Security grant funds.
    “If there’s a concern there’s something inappropriate on the computer I think it rises to the level that the board should examine the equipment,” Brueggeman said.
    He noted an incident several years ago in Dundy County in which thousands of dollars in equipment, also purchased with Homeland Security grant funds, was sitting unused in a box under some stairs in the courthouse.
    The board chairman, without asking, went to Dundy County and picked up the equipment, Brueggeman said.
    When pressed on why the request for Imperial’s computers was misrepresented as an audit, Brueggeman said, “I think Duane just said they were trying to keep it quiet” so not to affect reputations.
    Brueggeman added that he didn’t like the fact the SWPETR was put in the middle of “an ongoing dispute between the city and the county.
    “It’s too bad you all can’t get along,” he said.

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