Lincoln, Nebraska mayor names city's 1st LGBTQ police chief

·2-min read

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A high-ranking California police official was nominated Monday to serve as the next police chief in Lincoln, Nebraska, making her the city's first female chief and the first who is openly gay.

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said she has selected Teresa Ewins, a 55-year-old commander with the San Francisco Police Department. Ewins was one of four finalists who was chosen from a field of 31 applicants. If the Lincoln City Council approves her as expected, Ewins would assume the role on Aug. 31.

“During her visit to Lincoln last week, Teresa articulated a vision that connected with stakeholders in the search process,” Gaylor Baird said at a news conference. “I heard from street officers, command staff and community members, all of whom expressed their belief that she is the right leader for the Lincoln Police Department.”

Gaylor Baird said Ewins showed a commitment to the priorities outlined in the city's search process, including community policing, support for on-the-ground officers, an emphasis on diversity in the department, and accountability and transparency. She said Ewins was also selected for her record of leadership, communications skills and humility.

The appointment comes a year after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin. Floyd's death led to protests and rioting nationwide and in Lincoln, the second-largest city in Nebraska, with a population of about 289,000 and more than 350 sworn police officers.

Ewins has served in the San Francisco Police Department since 1994 in a variety of roles, including the agency's field operations bureau, investigations bureau and special operations bureau.

As the commander of the field operations bureau, she oversaw five of the city's 10 district stations in downtown San Francisco, with about 900 sworn members. She also worked within the department to develop policies designed to minimize bias in policing.

Ewins also won the endorsement of the city's police union, which said in a statement that Ewins stood above the rest of the field and urged Gaylor Baird to nominate her. Ewins will replace Jeff Bliemeister, who left in January to take a private sector job, and Brian Jackson, who has been serving as the city's acting police chief.

“I really look forward to just getting to know Lincoln and LPD officers, command staff, and working with the community,” Ewins said at the news conference via a video link from California.

The other finalists for the chief job were former Mesa, Arizona, police chief Ramon Batista; Darryl McSwain, the chief of the Montgomery County Division of the Maryland-National Capital Park Police; and Genelle Moore, a retired Lincoln Police Department captain.

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