Mayor Chris Beutler today will present the Mayor's Award of Excellence for September to Officer Matthew Franken, who works in Central Investigations for the Lincoln Police Department. The award will be presented at 3 p.m. at the beginning of the City Council meeting at the County-City Building, 555 S. 10th Street. The monthly award recognizes City employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to the City.
Franken was nominated in the category of productivity by Sergeant Mike Ripley for his investigation of a December 2016 homicide that has so far led to the arrest of ten people, including the person responsible for the homicide. Officers were responding to a disturbance call when they found a body with a gunshot wound in the trunk of a car. At the scene Franken built a rapport with a women who provided the name of one man and the nickname of another man who fled the scene. He also established the address of the shooting, and a search warrant was served. Franken worked with the U.S. Marshall's Fugitive Task Force to locate the known male suspect in Omaha, and he was returned to Lincoln. Franken interviewed the suspect and confirmed the other suspect's nickname. The known suspect was then arrested for being an accessory to murder.
Franken then contacted a colleague at the Omaha Police Department to see if he could identify the man with the nickname. That suspect was quickly identified, and further investigation led to surveillance of the Lincoln residence where the homicide occurred. The suspect was soon spotted leaving the home with several others. The officers' attempt to stop the vehicle led to a short pursuit and lengthy manhunt after the suspect drove the vehicle into Little Salt Creek. As a direct result of the information Franken collected, the suspect was arrested for second-degree murder, and seven others were arrested for accessory to murder. The shooter is now serving a sentence for manslaughter and possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell.
In addition to his investigations, Franken has also been the driving force in creating a department policy on Officer Involved Shootings. In his nomination, Ripley wrote, "With these types of high profile investigations, the potential for civil unrest within a community is significant. Thanks to Matt's dedication on the subject, the Lincoln Police Department is well prepared to handle this type of event and avoid a high profile situation that could cause civil unrest within the community."
The other categories in which employees can be nominated are customer service, safety, valor and loss prevention. Consideration also may be given to nominations that demonstrate self-initiated accomplishments or those completed outside of the nominee's job description. All City employees are eligible for the award except for elected and appointed officials. Individuals or teams can be nominated by supervisors, peers, subordinates and the general public. Nomination forms are available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: hr) or from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Human Resources Department, which oversees the awards program.
All nominations are considered by the Mayor's Award of Excellence Committee, which includes a representative with each union and a non-union representative appointed by the Mayor. Award winners receive a $50 gift certificate, a day off with pay and a plaque. All monthly winners and nominees are eligible to receive the annual award, which comes with a $250 gift certificate, two days off with pay and a plaque.