Lincoln residents can rest assured of two things when it comes to their next chief of police.
The soon-to-be-named leader of the city's police department will be well qualified, and he or she will break ground as either the first person of color, the first woman or both to serve as Lincoln's chief.
The Lincoln Police Department -- with more than 350 sworn officers and 140 civilian staffers -- serves this city with dedication and distinction. It is by no means a broken agency. Events of the last year -- and well before -- forced introspection by law enforcement bodies large and small across the entire nation.
Commendably, Lincoln police have been interested in listening and learning. And that dovetails with the inclusive process employed by Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and the city during the hiring process to replace Jeff Bliemeister, who left in January for a job heading up security at Bryan Health.
The finalists are Genelle Moore, a groundbreaking career LPD officer who retired in 2017; Ramon Batista, former chief of police in Mesa, Arizona; Teresa Ewins, a San Francisco police department commander; and Darryl McSwain, chief of police for the Maryland-National Capital Park Police-Montgomery County Division.
The four finalists were selected from a group that started out with 31 applicants, assembled with the help of a consulting firm. Consultants and the city narrowed the field to eight, and a search committee trimmed the group to the four finalists.
And now, the city is ready to do more listening.
The city will be holding public forums the week of June 21 at 5:30 p.m. at Auld Recreation Center in Antelope Park with each finalist. Presentations will be recorded and viewable at the LNKTV YouTube chanel, and feedback will be accepted though June 28 via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (402) 441-7511.
The mayor's office will make the final selection, and the City Council must approve it, but it's clear that there's a process to get public input before a decision is made, an important gesture both as a show of respect for the taxpayers who are literally and figuratively invested in the department and a means of understanding the priorities of community members.
Through this process, the next chief of police will hit the ground running, already building relationships and an understanding of what Lincoln needs from law enforcement.
Policing is evolving. So is Lincoln. This process will help pair the city's needs with the best of four uniquely qualified candidates to lead a department the city depends upon to foster and maintain our prosperity and peace of mind.