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Police chief keeps eye on legislation

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

McCOOK, Nebraska -- More than 600 bills were introduced this session by Nebraska legislators, many of which will, of course, have an effect on law enforcement and public safety. McCook Chief of Police Isaac Brown recapped a select few for the Gazette, which he believed were of particular interest.

The offense of disarming a police officer is typically addressed by charges of resisting arrest and obstruction of an officer, both of which are misdemeanor offenses. A bill Chief Brown hopes is supported, LB 128, would increase the offense of intentionally or knowingly disarming an officer, while in the performance of his or her duties, to a Class III felony.

The bill's statement of intent says a misdemeanor charge is not appropriate for this level of threat to an officer.

Chief Brown said LB 298 was an important and needed bill that would prohibit synthetic variations of drugs or analogs. According to Brown analogs are created by minimal altering of certain drug chemical makeups to produce illegal drugs and ultimately skirt drug laws.

LB 85 would allow vehicles weighing less than 1,000 pounds, primarily motorcycles, to turn left or right on a red light after waiting two minutes. Local motorcyclists who often find themselves halted at certain traffic signals for extended periods of time, because the mass of their bike is too light to trigger sensors in the asphalt, will likely appreciate this bill.

LB 10 makes not wearing seatbelts a primary offense, rather than a secondary offense. Chief Brown thought members of the public would find the notion of being stopped for not wearing a seatbelt of particular interest.

Chief Brown said two bills pertaining to firearms would be interesting to monitor.

LB 451 would prohibit federal restrictions on firearms, magazines and firearm accessories, an effort Chief Brown said is likely rooted in thwarting expected federal restrictions on firearms.

A second firearm related bill, LB 390, was introduced Sen. Mark Christensen and would change provisions relating to the Governor's powers regarding restrictions on firearms and ammunition, under the Emergency Management Act.

Among other details, the bill would prohibit the restriction of the otherwise lawful possession of firearms during a declared state of emergency.

Sexual predators would be prohibited from living within 500 yards of parks by LB 473, which would revise the Sexual Predator Residency Restriction Act.

Chief Brown described LB 58 as an important bill that would adopt the Workplace Privacy Act. The bill intends to prohibit employers from forcing employees to grant access to social media sites, such as Facebook.

According to Brown the concern from opponents of the bills is that it would allow employees to damage the reputation of business and government by posting improper or illegal comments or photos on social websites. The bill would also limit pre-employment examination of those sites.

Chief Brown said it is amazing how many applicants in business and government have improper photos of themselves posted on social media sites, which businesses see as a means of eliminating bad applicants before they become problem employees.


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