Douglas County Sheriff’s members promoted to command positions in Tuesday ceremony

Douglas County Sheriff Aaron Hansen promoted four deputies to command positions Tuesday, in an effort to bolster response to mental health calls.
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 12:46 PM CST
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BENNINGTON, Neb. (WOWT) - Newly elected Douglas County Sheriff Aaron Hanson has been on the job less than two weeks and he has been very busy.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department’s Honor Guard marched into a promotion ceremony held Tuesday morning at the Bennington Suburban Fire Departments facility.

Sheriff Hanson says Tuesday’s promotion brings his command staff up to the appropriate size.

“We need to make sure we have professional supervisors and command officers organizing the good street-level efforts of our deputies on the streets and in our courthouses,” Hanson said.

Four members of the Sheriff’s Department were promoted to command positions. They included Lt. Stan Benke, Sgt. Jared Langemeier, Sgt. Jason Mass, and Sgt. Austin Pratt.

One of the deputies promoted, Sgt. Jared Langemeier, will deal with the growing number of people calling law enforcement to deal with mental health emergencies. Hanson says he has noticed that almost every night and day deputies are responding to behavioral health crisis calls.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office has promoted a deputy to respond to increasing numbers of mental health calls.

Sgt. Jared Langemeier has a master’s degree in clinical mental health.

“As Jared takes the next step forward in his career he aims to strengthen the foundation of the mental health program at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office,” Hanson said.

Sgt. Langemeir says his new role will be to grow the department’s capabilities to deal with mental health issues.

“Ideally what that will end up looking like is we’ll have some co-responders and deputies that are assigned to a mental health division that have our crisis intervention training,” Langemeier said. “We’ll look to get them some other training, mental health, first aid, things like that.”

Dealing with people who are in a mental health crisis is a growing issue for law enforcement. Sheriff Hanson says he just discovered that funding to help his department deal with those issues is shrinking.

“Unfortunately I found the day before I walked into the Sheriff’s Office we lost a vital grant that allowed us to have a civilian co-responder. So now my task is to work with my command staff and experts like Sgt. Langemeier to try to identify new grants and try to re-engage that civilian co-responder within the Sheriff’s Office.”

Sgt. Langemeier will take the congratulations on his promotion to a job that connects those people who need help to the proper resources, to get their medication, or get a ride to see a doctor, something law enforcement didn’t sign up for.

“However if that’s part of what leads to the criminal element, it certainly is a win for us if we can have somebody that checks in and says ‘hey are you having any issues.’ And I may not be giving somebody a ride but I know people that can get them a ride.”

Douglas County Sheriff officials say they believe the number of people calling 911 for mental health reasons increased during the height of the pandemic.