Tom Casady is Lincoln’s public safety director, responsible for the Lincoln Police Department, 911 Emergency Communications, and Lincoln Fire and Rescue. Casady was Lincoln’s police chief from January 1994-May 2011. Prior to his appointment as police chief, he served as Lancaster County sheriff. He began his law enforcement career as a Lincoln police officer in 1974. He received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Nebraska Omaha, and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
What’s the most rewarding part about what you do?
Every time a police officer, firefighter or dispatcher makes a good case, achieves a good outcome for a patient or delivers excellent service to a citizen, I feel that I own an infinitesimally small part of the accomplishment for my small role in helping to set the stage. The budgets to be wrestled, meetings to be endured; the contract negotiations, lawsuits, grievances, news briefings, city council presentations, purchasing decisions, software updates, legal opinions and everything else that has to happen to keep 911 centers, police departments, and fire and rescue services humming all contribute to the end result.
What is your favorite part of Lincoln and why?
Wow, where do I start? I love neighborhood architecture. I've been collecting photos of carriage houses in Lincoln. My grandsons loved a tour I gave them recently of some of my favorites. I love the grand homes of the Mt. Emerald and Hawley districts, and the modest homes of the bungalow district just south of my office, the porches in Hartley, the alleys in Everett. I love little neighborhood grocery store buildings (one of which I worked in) that dot Lincoln’s older neighborhoods, hiding in plain sight. The storefronts of University Place, Bethany, Havelock, College View, South 16th Street, South 11th Street, the North Bottoms, 25th and Sumner, and the last remnants of Belmont all intrigue me.
Growing up, is this what you saw yourself doing?
I never, ever, saw myself as a police officer. By the time I was in high school and excelling in interscholastic debate, I was settled on law practice as my career trajectory. I really fell into policing by accident, when the funds were low during my senior year in college, and I heard about a federal government program that would pay the tuition of police officers in exchange for at least two years of service. It was such a good deal that after I wrapped up my last few credit hours, I decided to take advantage and continue to graduate school. I was enamored with police work, enjoying myself very much, and in short order had a baby boy, a mortgage and a blossoming career. It was certainly a fortuitous detour that put me on the path to a most rewarding adventure.
How do you take your coffee?
Black, stale and often. In the afternoon, I’ll pick up the pot in the conference room and give it a sniff to determine if it is this morning’s or yesterday’s coffee. Doesn’t matter, I’m drinking it anyway. At home, curiously, I’m a coffee snob. We pick up a pound of Columbian weekly at the Coffee Roaster, so the beans are always fresh. We store them in the freezer, and I grind every morning. Tonja (his wife) awakens to the aroma of the morning brew.