Mike Hilgers

Nebraska Attorney General

Attorney General Mike Hilgers' December Column: Miles Across Nebraska - What I learned visiting law enforcement in 93 counties

This year when I came into office, it was a priority for me to build relationships with law enforcement across the state. In January, I started by visiting Colfax County, and over the subsequent months, I have driven across Nebraska to courthouses and communities from Arthur to Wayne County to Webster County. As this is being written, I am wrapping up a 93-county tour.

These communities, each with their own character and personality, are a joy to visit. I would recommend to anyone in our state to visit Taylor to see the birthplace of the famous Taylor Juniper trees. There are also a bounty of beautiful recreational areas to visit, like Harlan County Lake and Merritt Reservoir. I would encourage any Nebraskan to put these places and more on their 2024 travel list. 

During these visits, I listened to the concerns of local Nebraska law enforcement by asking two questions – “What are the major issues you are facing?” and “How can we help?” Nebraska communities face a wide range of issues, and I am grateful for the chance to hear about each community’s challenges and opportunities.

However, after visiting every county, some patterns began to emerge. There are three major issues affecting Nebraskans in almost every county: drugs, mental health, and the well-being of youth. 

Nebraska communities are suffering from the harmful impact of illegal drugs, including meth and fentanyl. Many of the drugs coming into our state are produced outside of our borders. Additionally, numerous stores across the state are selling mislabeled, chemically laden, toxic, and often illegal Delta-8 products.

Nebraska citizens frequently experience mental health challenges. Care for those struggling is often limited or hard to access, especially in the western part of the state. 

Youth in Nebraska have been targeted by big tech organizations, the vaping industry, sextortion, and a number of serious issues. 

We are seeking solutions to these problems with our partners. For example, we recently filed a series of consumer protection lawsuits against those targeting our communities with unlawfully packaged and marketed products containing Delta-8. We will continue to work as a supporting partner to law enforcement around the state.

At a time when recruiting challenges are real and staffing can be stretched, our office wants to echo the high calling of those serving in law enforcement and cast a vision for those who would consider public service. It is encouraging to know we are fortunate to have people on our front lines in law enforcement who care about their neighbors, sacrifice for their communities, and promote the safety of families and children.

As we head into the new year, I am grateful for the amazing men and women who honorably serve the public in law enforcement. From police chiefs and sheriffs to officers, deputies, county attorneys, and support personnel, these people are heroes. Our future prosperity depends on the safety of our communities, and I am proud to serve alongside these admirable Nebraskans.