SIDNEY — Law enforcement officers spend considerable time on their own as the patrol the streets and highways, but having backup from your own staff and from neighboring agencies is critical when situations arise.

In Cheyenne County, the Sheriff’s Department, the Sidney Police Department and the Nebraska State Patrol have established a good working relationship between the three agencies. Sidney Police Chief Joe Aikens spoke to the dynamic of assistance between his department and the Sheriff’s Department.

“They back us up on calls, we back them up on calls,” Aikens said. “Their primary responsibility is Cheyenne County where ours is just the city limits, but if they need help out in the county, I don’t have a problem whatsoever sending officers out to help them just because backup is limited out here. We bounce ideas off each other on a regular basis. If he (Sheriff Adam Frerichs) has a personnel issue he doesn’t think he’s got a grasp on or if I don’t think I have a grasp, we’re able to sit down and talk about it and come up with ideas together on different things. It’s a pretty good working relationship.”

Cheyenne County Sheriff Adam Frerichs said a spirit of cooperation in many communities isn’t always the case.

“One thing that we pride ourselves on — as I talk to different law enforcement agencies across the state of Nebraska and across the United States — there’s so many law enforcement agencies that don’t get along with the other agencies that are in their area,” Frerichs said. “I think that’s one of the areas where we’ve been blessed. We operate very well with the Sidney Police Department, with the Nebraska State Patrol, and we have to. Being a small agency like ours and a small police department like theirs, there’s times when they have one officer working, we have one deputy working. If there’s a call that comes in that requires backup, we’re going to be backing each other up, so it’s in our best interests that we get along and share information.”

Even that sharing of information hasn’t always been the norm.

“That was one thing that was taboo when I first started,” Frerichs said. “You didn’t dare share information with anybody outside the office because information is power, but we’ve developed a really good relationship over the years, and I’m proud of that, and I want to keep that. We’re all on the same team. We’re all fighting for the same end result. It does no good if there’s infighting and bickering among us.”

Aikens said just this week, he was talking with a retired deputy about a multi-jurisdiction case involving a theft ring where Sidney, Cheyenne County, Chadron Police, Scotts Bluff County Sheriff Department , North Platte Police and Kimball County Sheriff Department all worked together.

Both Aikens and Frerichs said the community support of the people in Sidney and Cheyenne County as a whole is refreshing in today’s society where law enforcement isn’t always viewed in the highest regard.

“I would tell you that nationwide I do see a change in the way people perceive law enforcement,” Aikens said. “Locally, I think our community is very supportive of law enforcement. In turn, I would hope that our officers are supportive of our community.”

Frerichs said he sees the level of respect returning for law enforcement, especially locally.

“One thing that stands out the most about (the people here), as you read and see about all the political angst against law enforcement across the United States, we have a huge support base here in Cheyenne County,” Frerichs said. “They are very pro-law enforcement. They support the Sheriff’s Office, the police department, the State Patrol. They’re very active in supporting us and what we do.”

Aikens offers 40 years of experience in law enforcement and Frerichs near 20 years. Their officers and deputies are also experienced, meaning that the citizens of the county are well covered.

“I think it bodes well for the community that they’ve got people that aren’t coming here to get a little bit of education and move on,” Aikens said. “When they start their careers, most of my staff is six or seven years plus. They’re not here for a couple years and gone. When they come here, they go to work here, it’s their home. They treat it as such.”

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Reporter

Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at mark.mccarthy@starherald.com.

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