Lawmakers Agree To Consider Police Oversight Bill

Nebraska lawmakers have cleared the way for a new proposal that would require cities to create civilian police oversight boards following public outrage over the deaths of Black men in confrontations with police.

Lawmakers took the rare step of allowing State Senator Justin Wayne of Omaha to introduce the new bill late in the session, when such action is normally prohibited. Senators voted 32-4 to temporarily suspend their own rules so that Wayne could bring the bill to the floor.

The vote came after Wayne, who is Black, talked about his own experience being pulled over by police for a broken tail light and having a gun pointed at him in front of the fifth-graders he was driving to a basketball practice.

Wayne also made an impassioned plea that a show of support by lawmakers could reduce the tensions that have led to street protests, some violent, in Lincoln and Omaha in recent weeks.

Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer opposed Wayne’s request, but later in the debate said what he’d heard had changed his mind and he urged his colleagues not to be afraid of making such admissions themselves in the future.