The YNT staff has contacted all the candidates running for a variety of local offices which will be on the Primary Election ballot on Tuesday, May 15.
They were all asked the same questions and allowed to answer how they see fit . . . with their own words, as long as or as short as they wanted. Those answers will run as we received them.
Each day this week, we will feature the candidates of a particular local race, so voters will be more informed when they go to cast their ballots next week.
Today, we will look at the race for York County Sheriff.
Early on, this was a contested race – between Sean Burnham, a police officer in Omaha, and Lt. Paul Vrbka, a veteran officer with the York County Sheriff’s Department.
Along the way, Burnham announced that due to family reasons, he would be removing himself from the race.
Burnham’s name will appear on the ballot for Republicans in York County, because his resignation of his candidacy came after the necessary deadline.
Lt. Paul Vrbka accepted the YNT request to answer the questions we asked of him, so residents will get to know more about him.
Because this was an all-Republican race, the position of sheriff will ultimately be determined in the May Primary.
Lt. Paul M. Vrbka
Current position: Lieutenant with the York County Sheriff’s Department
Background: Born in Lincoln, NE and raised in Pierce, NE
Education: *Pierce High School
*Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Criminal Justice Management (1991)
*Nebraska Law Enforcement Academy (1979)
*Associates Degree in Criminal Justice (1978)
*Certified in Law Enforcement Management
*Certified in Law Enforcement Supervision
*Certified in Correctional Facility Management
*Certified in intermediate and advanced interview techniques
*Certified in criminal investigating
*Certified in intermediate and advanced accident investigating
*Certified trainer and previous handler of police service dogs
I have worked with the York County Sheriff’s Department for 36 years as a road deputy, night sergeant and administrative lieutenant.
Awards, letters of recognition, etc. : *Letter of recognition from the Nebraska Department of Corrections for assisting in the apprehension of a dangerous escapee.
*Trauma Champion Award from Bryan LGH Trauma Center, Lincoln
*Letter of Recognition for Safety Awareness from Centennial Public School
*Former Southeast District Representative for the Nebraska Sheriff’s Association Board of Directors
Q: What drew you to a career in law enforcement?
A: I have always had the desire to become a law enforcement officer.
Q: What is the single biggest issue facing York County when it comes to crime?
A: Methamphetamine has become a major problem for law enforcement. York County has seen numerous property crimes, thefts and burglaries due to the use of methamphetamine.
Q: In the last few months, the sheriff’s department and the York Police Department have been collaborating on a number of efforts. Can you talk about those collaborations and also about other collaborations/efforts you would like to see the departments work together toward?
A: The York Sheriff’s Department and York Police Department will continue to work together on several programs, such as human trafficking enforcement, active shooter training, illegal drug enforcement, fraud and scam crime prevention.
Q: On that note, let’s talk about school security. Between the YSO and the YPD doing school checks, something is already actively being done. What other measures can be taken to further enhance safety for students and faculty?
A: I would like to see students, school staff and parents be more vigilant in reporting suspicious activity or behavior to law enforcement. This would assist the York County Sheriff’s Department and York County Police Department in being more proactive in investigating information and complaints.
Q: Give us your thoughts on the security at the courthouse and if more measures could be taken to enhance that security.
A: Currently security is in place during county and district court hearings and proceedings.
A uniformed security officer that could be assigned to patrol the courthouse during business hours.
Q: Do you feel there are enough law enforcement officers now working for the sheriff’s department? Do you think more personnel should be hired?
A: In the future I would like to consider the addition of one more deputy.
Q: We are in an exciting time as a new 911 communications center will be built this year in York County. Can you tell us about your role in that planning process and what you hope the center will be once it is completed and up and running?
A: I have attended several meetings with the 911 planning board and architect firm, the meetings have addressed: equipment, staffing, software upgrades and future standard operational procedures. The 911 communications center will provide York County with a modern and more efficient emergency facility.
Q: What prompted you to decide to run for York County Sheriff?
A: I have a strong passion and desire to continue my law enforcement career as the next York County Sheriff. I have had the opportunity to work for the York County Sheriff’s Department for 36 years and I have the education and experience to create a seamless and smooth transition when Sheriff Radcliff retires. I have been fortunate to have gained valuable knowledge and experience while working alongside Sheriff Radcliff.