On Tuesday, October 3, 2017, Lincoln Police Officer Launa Groves was awarded the Police Officers' Association of Nebraska Outstanding Police Officer Award. Her nomination was the result of her outstanding investigative work in a series of cases.
Officer Groves is a certified Latent Print Examiner through the International Association for Identification. Forensic Lab Manager Erin Sims nominated her in the categories of productivity and safety for her recent work on three specific cases, which led to the clearance of six armed robberies and four gun store burglaries:
The first case was an armed bank robbery in December 2016. One of the two robbers left behind a plastic bag. Groves found a receipt inside, which resulted in the retailer providing video of the suspects. She processed the receipt and bag for prints, which led to the identification of a suspect who was arrested.
Further investigation led to the arrest of a second suspect, and continued investigation led to the clearance of four convenience store robberies committed by the two suspects.
The second case was a burglary at a jewelry and pawn shop. Groves again processed a plastic bag left at the scene and was able to identify a suspect who was arrested. A warrant for the suspect's phone revealed photos of numerous stolen guns and a second suspect who was arrested. Further investigation led to the clearance of three additional gun store burglaries, and some, but not all of the guns have been recovered
The third case occurred earlier, in February of 2016, when a bank was robbed by a man who also left behind a plastic bag. After hearing about Groves' success in recovering latent prints from plastic bags, the investigator sent the bag to her for processing. Groves was again able to identify a suspect who lives in Omaha. Lincoln and Omaha police continue to work together to locate the suspect to clear the robbery and several other cases in which he is suspected.
Sims said numerous officers and investigators did good work on the cases. But, she wrote, "Officer Groves provided the missing pieces that gave investigators the information they needed to focus their investigation and resources on the parties responsible, and stopping these criminals from committing future violent gun related offenses."