- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lincoln Public Safety Director Tom Casady plans to create a task force to see if the Lincoln Fire and Rescue needs to be overhauled after a report detailed retaliation against a whistleblower.

A report obtained by the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1Hm2w9S ) says Capt. Troy Hurd was disciplined by at least three chiefs four times over two years after he reported in 2012 that firefighters were abusing recruits. The report was given to Lincoln’s Mayor in October.

Hurd complained that trainers yelled at, misled and failed to supervise and accused recruits of snitching.

Kim Taylor-Riley, a city official who wrote the report, said Hurd was blocked from a temporary promotion that comes with a 10 percent pay increase during that time. After Taylor-Riley’s report, Mayor Chris Beutler removed all disciplinary actions against Hurd from his file in November.

“I was put up on a pedestal so even the littlest or minutest mistakes I made, they got elevated to the next level,” Hurd said last week. “You walk around with eyes behind your head because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

According to the report, one chief admitted he punished Hurd severely because he filed a complaint with the state.

Chief John Huff says he is not sure if the report’s finding are accurate, but he would not dispute them.

“That’s water under the bridge,” Huff said Thursday. “The important thing here is we learn from our mistakes and we correct the behaviors.”

The chiefs involved in the case have not been disciplined and still work for the department. Huff said that the incidents happened too long ago, so he does not plan on disciplining the people involved.

“Discipline, in order for it to be effective, has to be timely. It can’t be years later.”

Casady is choosing to work on the future, rather than punishment for the past because he was concerned that the back-and-forth over the years would make it difficult to find the truth. According to chief of staff Rick Hoppe, the mayor agrees with Casady’s approach.

A database that lets supervisors track discipline has also been creates by Casady to ensure that supervisors are giving the same punishment for the same kinds of behavior.

“LFR command is well aware that the mayor’s office, the public safety director, and the fire chief are all closely watching to ensure that (Hurd) is being treated fairly and that his employment rights are respected,” he said.

Hurd, however, is not satisfied and wants those who retaliated against him to be suspended or fired.

“When it’s corrupt at the top, it’s going to be corrupt at the bottom,” he said. “If you fix things at the top, everything else will work itself out.”


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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