Election 2022: Douglas County Sheriff candidates meet in union-sponsored debate
Gonzalez, Hanson took questions from sworn officers about how they would work with staff if elected
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The contentious race to be Douglas County’s next sheriff continued Tuesday night at a debate at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 2.
Candidates took questions from sworn officers about how they will work with staff as sheriff.
Republican Aaron Hanson and Democrat Greg Gonzalez discussed their goals and agreed on most topics. Both men say they want to expand road patrols and increase community policing as traffic accidents and crime rates rise.
“The sheriff’s office is hemorrhaging a little bit on retention so that’s a problem because when you talk about taxpayers and what’s lost, that’s about $2.5 million dollars and so I’ve hired over 450 police officers and I have a recipe for success with that, so we’re going to address that first when I’m in office,” Gonzalez said.
“We have to keep people in Douglas County safe and the way that we do that is to ensure that our sheriff’s office is growing proportionate to the growth of our entire county,” Hanson added.
Hansen, a current OPD Gang Unit Sergeant, and Gonzalez, a former OPD Deputy Chief, answered questions from the FOP about dealing with internal affairs, contract negotiations, recruitment, and wages.
“Pay as we all know, needs to be looked at,” Gonzalez said. “There are different positions in the county that get paid more than a sergeant in this department so that’s troublesome to me.”
“We have got to honor our front line deputies, sergeants, lieutenants,” Hanson said. “I know, I’ve run the numbers, your wage scale is too low when compared to the Omaha-metro area.”
The only topic the men seemed to disagree on was deputies participating in pre-trial release supervision.
“If we do appropriate pre-trial release supervision like innovative sheriffs offices around the country, I just visited Penalis County, and for a $3 million investment to run that pre-trial release supervision program, they have a 96% success rate on those offenders not re-offending, and they’re saving $94 million a year on incarceration costs,” Hanson said.
“The reality of it is, most of you didn’t become deputies to be a pre-trial officer, you came to wear a uniform like I did, I was a deputy, to patrol and to be a police officer, and if you want to be a glorified probation officer, you would’ve entered the probation realm,” Gonzalez said.
On Wednesday, Gonzalez issued a news release challenging Hanson to “at least three more debates” before the November election.
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