Kearney, Nebraska
Community Profile


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Kearney, Nebraska is an attractive, historic community in the Platte River Valley that enjoys a vibrant economy and strong community spirit. With such diverse businesses as major manufacturers, agriculture, education, medicine and tourism, Kearney and Buffalo County are poised to move into the future with confidence.

The city of Kearney is governed by a City Council/City Manager form of government and operates its own water and sanitation systems. Five council members are elected at large and select one member to serve as Mayor/President. There are 16 boards and commissions who work with the City Council and City staff for the betterment of the community.

The City Council hires a City Manager, who oversees daily operations, prepares a budget and implements policies of the council. The City of Kearney employs 196 full-time and 24 part-time employees. The eight city departments are Airport, Administration, Fire, Library, Parks & Recreation, Police, Public Works and Utilities. Services and facilities include 11 parks, two swimming pools, an 18-hole municipal golf course and a cemetery.

Citizens and businesses benefit from the communications facilities available in Kearney. The city government is on-line, allowing access to government meeting agendas, regulations and other documents. Enhanced 911 services provide the safety and protection benefits that Buffalo County residents need, while improved communications keep law enforcement and other public officials in touch with each other and the community.

Operations shared with Buffalo County are the Library Bookmobile, Solid Waste Agency Landfill, Emergency Management, Cottonmill Park and the Law Enforcement Center, with no duplication of services in the police department and sheriff’s department in the Law Enforcement Center.

Kearney is the seat of Buffalo County, adding county administration to the bustling atmosphere of the community. The county employs 222 persons, 162 of those full-time. Seven members of the Board of Supervisors, elected from seven districts, oversee the activities of Buffalo County. Departments include Highway, County Clerk, District Court, Assessor, Elections, Registrar of Deeds, Superintendent of Schools, Veteran’s Service Officer, Attorney, Treasurer, Surveyor and Weed Department. The Buffalo County Sheriff’s Department includes 22 officers and jail employees and a communications office.

One of the most important governmental functions is handled on a daily basis by Kearney Area Solid Waste Agency, which operates and maintains a landfill that meets local, state and federal guidelines for the proper disposal of waste material. The landfill operation started in 1994, the first Subtitle D landfill in the State of Nebraska.

The landfill accepts all types of waste, including municipal, industrial, construction demolition and special waste (including asbestos), under the watchful eye of the Kearney Area Solid Waste Agency Board. City Council members, county officials and administrative staff make up the governing board.

Kearney Area landfill serves approximately 37,000 people in Buffalo County and the surrounding area, with expected operation to last about 35 years (at the current rate of 37,000 tons annually). Funding is provided by “tipping” fees, now $32.50 per ton.

The Kearney Police Department is a dynamic and modern law enforcement agency. The department services a community of approximately 30,000 people, which includes the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The community has a modest crime rate, and the department maintains a crime-clearance rate well above the national average. The department is allotted 40 sworn positions and 12 non-sworn positions and is divided into two divisions, Operations and Services. The Operations division is commanded by a Captain and includes all sworn personnel assigned to Patrol and Investigations as well as the Community Service function. The Services division is also commanded by a Captain and includes Records, Staff Services, Evidence and Property as well as Computer Services. Other functions include Emergency Management and the Victim/Witness Unit.

The department is located at 2025 Avenue A in downtown Kearney. The facility houses both the Kearney Police and the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Department. This co-located facility was opened in June of 1993 and is a model for inter-governmental cooperation throughout Nebraska and the Central States. The City of Kearney owns the facility and services are offset by each agency to avoid duplication and additional expense to the taxpayer.

The Patrol Unit provides 24-hour, seven-days-a-week coverage utilizing three shifts. Each shift is commanded by a Sergeant and assisted by a Corporal. The department uses a three-beat or district system of assignment, and employees are assigned specific geographic areas of the community for a minimum of 12 weeks. The employees rotate through the three shifts every 12 weeks as well. Each beat or district has oversight by a Corporal who coordinates service by Patrol personnel within that beat or district.

Investigative Services are provided by a staff of seven and include D.A.R.E. officers assigned to both the elementary and middle schools. A Sergeant, who is aided by a Corporal, commands the Unit. The Corporal has oversight over Proactive Police Projects, the School Truancy Program and Youth Crime investigations.

Records Services consist of a Clerk Supervisor and five full-time staff. A Community Service Officer, who works half time in this function and half time in the Records Services Unit at the Service Window, manages Evidence and Property.

A Sergeant manages the Staff function. The Sergeant is responsible for departmental training as well as equipment replacement and repair. The Sergeant is also charged with completed staff work and the oversight of the Records Unit, Evidence and Property, as well as Interns, on a daily basis.

A civilian employee manages the Computer Services Unit with oversight by the Services Division Captain. The department utilizes a modern computer system and a law enforcement enterprise system that includes centralized automation. The department provides services to the Buffalo County Corrections Center, the Buffalo County Attorney’s Office, Mobile Data Computing in all marked vehicles and maintains computerized systems within the facility. The Computer Services manager also maintains the Records Management and Computer-Aided Dispatch systems used by the department.

Emergency Management is a function of the department as well. This is a co-managed function of both the City of Kearney and Buffalo County. The Emergency Manager is a city employee who answers to a joint committee made up of the Police Chief, Buffalo County Sheriff, a member of the County Board, the City Manager and a member at large from Buffalo County. The Emergency Manager is responsible for preparedness and training for first responders throughout Kearney and Buffalo County.

The Victim/Witness Unit provides direct services to the citizens of Kearney and Buffalo County. The Unit also provides services indirectly by mail and telephone to eight surrounding counties. The Unit consists of a Director and two part-time staff. This group provides direction and information to victims or witnesses to crimes and provides a variety of services
as needed.

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