- Associated Press - Monday, August 22, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska is one of the first states to take advantage of a new federal training program designed to improve relationships between law enforcement officers and their communities, Gov. Pete Ricketts said Monday.

Agencies including the Nebraska State Patrol and the Omaha and Lincoln police departments have already started running officers through the Blue Courage pilot program with help from a federal grant. Ricketts and law enforcement leaders touted the program during a news conference at the Capitol.

“It’s really a neat program that Nebraska is on the forefront of,” Ricketts said.

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance has provided assistance for the program in Nebraska, Washington state, Arizona and Baltimore County, Maryland. Iowa, Kansas and Ohio have already fully implemented the program.

Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center Director Bill Muldoon said the program is designed to reduce cynicism among officers, remind them of their impact on communities and emphasize a commitment to public service. The training is mandatory for new officers and will eventually be expanded so that all the state’s officers will participate.

Nebraska Crime Commission Director Darrell Fisher said the program seeks to promote the “emotional, physical and general well-being” of the state’s law enforcement officers.

The 16-hour program focuses on police culture, positive psychology, tactical wisdom and other things police employees should consider in their jobs.

Nebraska received about $40,000 worth of services and resources from instructors and has trained nearly 450 State Patrol officers plus other officers from various agencies. The Lincoln Police Department has sent 114 employees through the program. In Omaha’s department, 55 employees have completed it.

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