LINCOLN, Nebraska – According to a statement made by a former officer of the Lincoln Police Department, Luke Bonkiewicz, “Lincoln Police officers have endured harassment, discrimination, and retaliation for years, even decades.”
After interviewing with three former officers of the Lincoln Police Department, we learned that speaking out against the city was never the intended course of action.
According to Former Sergeant Angela Sands, “This was never meant to evolve into lawsuits or anything like that.” [Citation needed] “None of us desired it; we wanted to make the department better,” was the consensus among us.
However, they stated that after what they seen while working for the agency and what they consider to be ongoing, they felt as though there was no other option available to them.
Erin Spilker, who had previously served as the public information officer for the Lincoln Police Department, stated: “I’m sitting here in front of you today because obviously, I’m representing something that has been a call to action for the Lincoln Police Department.”
After the city had made the results of a survey conducted by 21st Century Policing available to the public, Bonkiewicz, Sands, and Spilker sat down for an interview with 10/11 to discuss the department’s policies, procedures, and culture in an effort to ensure that it is free of harassment and discrimination. Sarah Williams, a former cop, got a settlement from the city for a lawsuit she brought against the city for sexual harassment and discrimination. The lawsuit was disclosed by Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird, who then launched the poll. There have been three additional officers who have filed claims that are quite similar to this one, but the proceedings are still underway.
The findings of the poll revealed that 16 women, or 47% of those who responded to this question, stated that they had also been subjected to harassment or discrimination while working for LPD. 18 women, representing 53% of the total, claimed that they had not been subjected to any form of discrimination or harassment.
During the news conference, neither the mayor nor Chief Teresa Ewins addressed that figure particularly; however, the representatives from 21st Century Policing did emphasize that it will be a struggle for LPD to work through the divisiveness that is shown in that answer.
Kathleen O’Toole, who works for 21st Century Policing, was quoted as saying, “I think that the challenge will be to accept that people bring different lived experiences and to the table, and that the organization really needs to support a culture of listening to those who, with whom we sometimes disagree, and show respect for differences of opinion.” “I think that the challenge will be to accept that people bring different lived experiences and to the table,” she said.
Sands, Spilker, and Bonkiewicz all expressed the opinion that they thought the survey and the city brushed over this problem.
Spilker stated that there were 16 ladies who had the courage to stand forward. “Sixteen different women had the courage to respond to the poll and declare that they had been harassed or discriminated against. 16 courageous ladies, yet the significance of that number was underestimated.
Sands is concerned that the actual figure is even higher.
“We had our friends who still work there reaching out to us saying we’re too terrified to take it,” Sands added. “We had our friends who still work there reaching out to us.” “What if they are able to witness the results, and as a result, that fear remains in them?”
Officials from the city stated that the survey was distributed to LPD personnel via a link that was independent from the city, and personnel were free to complete the survey whenever and whenever they desired.
Ewins stated that there was no monitoring of them. “I mean, that is a fundamental element of this is to ensure that we receive, you know, honesty and there is no pressure, no stress on them,” the speaker said. “I mean, that’s a key part of this.”
But Bonkiewicz stated that his experience was not at all like that.
According to what Bonkiewicz said, “I was directed to report to a police captain’s office in order to take the survey.” “I took the survey in the police captain’s office while my survey answers were aired on the large screen TV of the conference room,” she said. “The captain sat at his desk throughout the entire process.”
According to Bonkiewicz, the captain who was present at the time was just following orders, but the fact that this raises questions about the reliability of the findings concerns him.
“If I was pressured to deliver a good reaction, I wonder how many individuals felt that pressure from supervisors or from administrators,” Bonkiewicz said. “If I was pressured, I wonder how many people felt that pressure.”
10/11 asked the department about the allegation that Bonkiewicz was required to take the survey supervised and about the categorization that the city did not take the survey results regarding the 16 women facing assault seriously enough. 10/11 also asked the department about the allegation that the former officers believed that the city did not take the survey results seriously enough.
Ewins did not respond to any queries that were linked to those subjects. She stated that the department will not comment on any questions relating to outstanding cases at this time and that this is the government’s official policy.
However, Ewins did provide an answer to the question that was concerning the subsequent steps of the 21st Century Policing survey.
“We have gone over the report and are currently working with our staff to formulate a directing document that will include the suggestions that have been provided by our personnel as well as the best practices. “By the 5th of December, we will have completed this document, and it will be available on the home page of the department for access by the media and the general public,” Ewins said in the statement.
After years of speaking up, Spilker expressed the hope that the concerns will now receive the attention they deserve, which will ultimately lead to reform.
Spilker made it clear that “this is not an easily addressed problem, and it is not.” But if we don’t do something about it, you’re going to end up with a runaway train on your hands, and the situation isn’t going to get any better.
According to Sands, the former officers will now have the assistance of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. This fund assists those who have been victims of sexual harassment or retribution in the workplace.
Sands stated that they are going to assist in bringing about this change because “it’s good to have someone come in and validate you.” “The whole idea of this was to bring about change, and it’s morphed into something greater that can hopefully affect that change and make Lincoln safer,” said the mayor. “The change that was brought about was because of this.”