- Associated Press - Saturday, August 5, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The head of the Nebraska state troopers’ union is pushing back against portions of a governor’s report detailing problems within the Nebraska State Patrol, saying it unfairly puts part of the blame on the union.

Patrol Sgt. Brian Petersen, president of the State Troopers Association of Nebraska, said Friday that the union supported the recent firing of the head of the patrol, Col. Brad Rice, and had sought to highlight problems within the agency prior to the governor’s report.

In June, a union survey of state troopers found widespread dissatisfaction among rank-and-file employees with the agency’s management.

“The bottom line is, we were at opposition with Brad Rice’s tenure, his leadership,” Petersen said. “The history will prove that.”

Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts on Thursday released a report that blasted patrol leaders for what it said were several failings, including trying to influence the outcome of internal investigations.

The report also said Rice had an “unduly familiar” relationship with Petersen, hearing complaints directly from Petersen when they should have been filed with the state’s Division of Employee Relations.

Petersen denied that, saying he was never asked by those investigating on behalf of the governor’s office about those allegations.

“Each of these inaccuracies could have readily been fixed with a brief phone call from the governor’s office to me,” Peterson said.

The governor’s office said Saturday that its investigator met twice with Petersen, “including a meeting with the union’s board, to listen to their concerns about the direction of the patrol.”

Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage said in a written statement that the governor’s office “stands by the report’s findings and recommendations.”

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