Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts took swift action and fired the head of the Nebraska State Patrol for possibly interfering in internal investigations, an unprecedented move that could leave a federal investigation lingering over the agency, the Omaha World-Herald reports. The governor terminated Col. Brad Rice after a preliminary review found “interferences in internal investigations and violations of internal policy at the highest levels of the Nebraska State Patrol.” Ricketts appointed Rice in 2015, and recently expressed confidence in his leadership. “The colonel did not live up to my expectations,” a somber Ricketts said Friday. “We have to be beyond reproach, and that’s why I relieved him of his duties.”
The governor said the information collected in an ongoing review by the state personnel director has been provided to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Six other patrol staff, including Rice’s second in command, have been placed on paid administrative leave until the review is completed. “We will not tolerate that breach of integrity in the Nebraska State Patrol or any of my organizations,” Ricketts said. Rice’s firing was welcomed by many rank-and-file troopers who recently voiced dissatisfaction with Rice’s leadership in a survey by the State Troopers Association of Nebraska, the troopers union. The $85 million a year agency employs 437 sworn officers. The governor declined to discuss details of possible meddling by administrators, but he did mention “use of force” investigations, including one described in a World-Herald report about a driver who died in a high-speed pursuit. The story raised questions about whether reports on the cause of the crash had been changed to shift the onus from the state patrol to the intoxicated driver.