(Neb)-Crime Comm Staffers Suing Panhandle Officials Over Harassment
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Two top staffers of the Nebraska Crime Commission are suing Scottsbluff and Cheyenne counties, the city of Scottsbluff, Cheyenne County Sheriff Jon Jensen, Scotts Bluff County Sheriff Mark Overman, and Scottsbluff Police Chief Kevin Spencer for harassment and slander.
Lisa Stamm, chief of the Crime Commission's grants division, and Vanessa Humaran, a federal aid administrator, claim in their suits that Overman, Jenson, and Spencer tried to discredit them after WING, the Western Intelligence Narcotics Group, drug task force was denied an expected grant earlier this year. The 3 law enforcement officers are all members of the WING board.
The lawsuit alleges that Spencer improperly used a state criminal background database to do 2 criminal background searches on Humaran, that Jenson did a similar search on Stamm, and that Jenson and Overman made "frivolous" complaints to the Attorney General's Office.
It also claims they sent a Facebook posting by Stamm in support of medical marijuana to Attorney General Doug Peterson and followed with several phone calls to the Crime Commission to try to get an investigation launched against her.
Lincoln attorney Kathleen Neary represents Stamm and Humaran and says Spencer, Jenson, and Overman engage in a "clear abuse of power" by using a government-funded database to "target people they perceive as their enemies.”
Cheyenne County Attorney Paul Schaub said his office was notified of the lawsuit on Tuesday and the allegations need to be fully reviewed with Sheriff Jenson to be represented by an outside attorney.
WING's budget is about $750,000 a year and the task force has traditionally a good portion of that from a federal Justice Administration Grant...although the grants have been shrinking in recent years. A $70,000 grant was expected this year, but it was denied by the Crime Commission..
Sheriff Overman in May told reporters the loss of the grant was because the commission was shifting its priorities to community policing programs, but the lawsuit says renewal of the grant was for “continued non-compliance with grant requirements.”
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