Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird today will present the Mayor's Award of Excellence for May to Sergeant Cassandra Nissen with the Lincoln Police Department (LPD) Southeast Team. 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.
Nissen is a 13-year LPD veteran who was nominated in the categories of customer relations and safety by Captain Martin Fehringer for developing a program to improve the safety of autistic individuals who wander or elope.
Nissen and Sergeant Todd Beam began developing an autistic safety program in 2018. They started by becoming certified in training designed to give individuals with autism and other intellectual disabilities critical skills to ensure they have safe interactions with law enforcement officers. Then, working with the Autism Family Network, Nissen and Beam conducted local "Be Safe" trainings.
During those trainings, law enforcement gathered information to assist them in locating those who wander or elope. Nissen then created a "wander flag" data bank for the LPD records management system, which gives caregivers a way to provide relevant information to law enforcement about their loved ones. This information, along with a photo, is instantly available to law enforcement via the mobile data terminals in their vehicles, improving the efficiency of locating missing individuals.
Using a grant from the Jullia Rose Foundation, LPD then partnered with the Lancaster County Sheriff's Department and the Autism Family Network to bring Project Lifesaver to Lincoln/Lancaster County. Project Lifesaver is a national program that uses locating technology with highly directional receivers operated by certified officers and deputies to locate small transmitters worn by individuals who are prone to wandering or eloping.
Additionally, Nissen updated department policies and procedures to incorporate the program, wander flag data, and use of tracking equipment. She also conducted training to ensure all the officers were aware of the program.
"Cassie completed much of this work while still working as a uniformed overnight street officer." Fehringer wrote. "Her passion for her community, especially some of our most vulnerable citizens, was apparent throughout the entire process."
The other categories in which employees can be nominated are productivity and valor. 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 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.