A former superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol is suing the agency, alleging he was wrongly denied identification to carry a concealed firearm.
Bradley Rice, who led the agency from March 2015 until he was dismissed by the governor in June 2017, filed the lawsuit against the agency and its current superintendent Wednesday in Lancaster County District Court.
Rice, in his lawsuit, states that as a result of his work in law enforcement, he has concerns for his safety in public places.
He says that on April 18, he requested the agency’s approval to carry a concealed firearm.
A federal code allows qualified retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms under certain conditions with proper identification.
On May 3, the lawsuit says, the current superintendent, John Bolduc, denied his request on grounds that Rice did not depart the agency in good standing because he was “involuntarily terminated.”
In 2017, Gov. Pete Ricketts terminated Rice for allegedly interfering in internal affairs investigations.
The lawsuit says Bolduc’s conclusion that Rice did not depart in good standing is “arbitrary, capricious and not based upon any competent, relevant evidence, or applicable standards of review.”
Rice asks the court to direct the agency to provide him the documents or certification necessary to carry a gun.
State patrol spokesman Cody Thomas said he could not comment on pending litigation.
However, he issued a statement Thursday saying the matter “isn’t a concealed handgun permit issue.”
He said that subject to conditions, some retired law enforcement officers may carry a concealed firearm without a Nebraska Concealed Handgun Permit.
He said Rice requested the agency provide him an identification card to do so and was denied.
In his lawsuit, Rice notes that he served in good standing with the patrol from the date of his commission until the date of his formal retirement in December 2010. In 2015, he was appointed as patrol superintendent.
He says he was never disciplined for any misconduct related to his public service as a law enforcement officer and was decorated for his work in driving under the influence apprehensions.
He indicates that as a political appointee, he served at the pleasure of the governor, and that his termination “was not based on any conduct or failure to act, that were reasonably related to . . . performance as a law enforcement officer.”
His termination, the lawsuit says, was based “solely on political grounds or factual allegations that were either not true or proven to be false.”