The Omaha World-Herald explores the history of a city policy that pays some college tuition costs for police officers. Officers are reimbursed up to about $600 per semester for any class at any university — whether the money’s in the city budget or whether the course even relates to their job. For years, Omaha police and any other city employees worked under more restrictive tuition reimbursement rules. But that changed after a ruling by the state’s labor court.
The Nebraska Commission of Industrial Relations found that four similar cities — Cincinnati, Denver, Fort Worth and Oklahoma City — paid officers in some way to take college classes, and it ordered Omaha to follow suit. The commission didn’t consider all the details of those cities’ tuition reimbursement policies. Cincinnati, for instance, has put its reimbursement program on hold for a few years because of budget cuts. Oklahoma City has a more generous policy than Omaha, offering up to $1,250 per semester for police officers and firefighters’ tuition and fees in any course. In addition, the commission gave little guidance about what Omaha’s policy should include.