Civilian Employee of the Year 2016
Identification Lab Specialist James Betts
For the past thirty-two years, Jim Betts has played an active role in crime-fighting. Beginning his law enforcement career as a Police officer for the Columbus Police Department, then as a Deputy Sheriff for the Saunders County Sheriff's Department, one would think Jim had seen and done just about all one could in law enforcement in Nebraska. This was not to be the case. After being hired by the Lincoln Police Department in 1996 as a Public Service Officer, providing support to the uniformed and specialized teams as well as other support units at LPD, Jim sought to get back into some of the more common aspects of "front line" law enforcement work and took on responsibilities as an Evidence Technician and Crime Scene Investigator.
In 2007, Jim left the Lincoln Police Department and became a civilian Evidence Technician for the U.S. Military. He was stationed in Iraq and was responsible for processing IED's for latent fingerprints. Upon finishing his deployment to Iraq, Jim returned to Nebraska, working as an AFIS operator with the Nebraska State Patrol. Then, in 2013, Jim once again returned to LPD in his current position as ID lab specialist and has let no grass grow under his feet ever since. Jim immediately became involved in extra activities to benefit the department. In 2015, he trained two recruit academy classes in the techniques of lifting fingerprints and crime scenes and has instructed newly-hired jailors in taking quality arrest prints during the book-in process. During that same year, Jim presented eight hours of training to the LPD crime scene investigators pertaining to crime scene diagramming. Additionally, Jim represents the non-commissioned employees of LPD on the department's Awards Committee. In his free time, Jim is an avid photographer and is quite gifted at his craft. His photography skills have also benefited the department, as he was actively involved in producing quality photos of several department teams and units for the development of the LPD Legacy Book, which will be used to help chronicle the history of the department. He also submitted a series of photos highlighting LPD's new uniforms, ultimately resulting in the department being voted as the "2015 Best Dressed Public Safety Agency" in a national competition.
Jim's two main job duties within the Forensics Unit is to work Questioned Document and Latent Fingerprint cases. In 2015, Jim worked thirteen of the eighteen questioned document cases submitted to the unit. Two of those were high-profile cases with one culminating in the arrest and ultimate plea agreements of two persons and the other ended with a guilty plea from the person responsible for bank robberies in the Omaha area. Also within 2015, Jim made fingerprint identifications on fifty LPD cases, mostly from evidence recovered. Jim has become the department's "go to" person for the more unique items sent to the ID lab for processing. Additionally, Jim's experience in fingerprint identification as well as his status as an expert witness recently aided Scotland Yard in two homicide cases involving IED's. Though not part of his official job description, Jim has assisted in eliminating some backlog of video evidence, helping to clear seven cases.
Jim possess the ability to apply his past experience and training to current work requests and incorporates his knack for thinking outside of the box in order to take the extra step needed to work cases and assist in investigations. Jim has stated that he was grateful for the opportunity to return to LPD where he appreciates the mindset that mediocrity is not acceptable and employees are encouraged to use their unique capabilities and individual talents for the benefit of the department and community. The department is also grateful for Jim's return, his dedicated work ethic, positive attitude and eagerness to teach others what he has learned. In appreciation for his enthusiastic approach and expert capabilities, the Awards Committee is proud to present ID Lab Specialist James Betts with the 2016 Civilian Employee of the Year Award.