KPD on Cruise Nite

KPD/BCSO REACT teams went to Walgreens Saturday night to disperse an unwanted crowd. The two teams of Kearney Police Department officers and Buffalo County Sheriff's Office deputies used ATVs to move in and out of traffic easily and be on scene faster and with more manpower. 

KEARNEY — Road construction on West 25th Street and a lack of hotel rooms may have contributed to a manageable “after Cruise Nite crowd” for law enforcement.

KPD officers had 249 calls for service between 6 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Sunday. Overall, Kearney Police Department Lt. Kevin Thompson, who has been working the Cruise Nite aftermath of West 25th Street for more than 20 years, felt the environment was more relaxed than in previous years.

“It seemed like a much more relaxed environment than the last number of years leading up to this,” he said.

He attributed that to the traffic on West 25th Street being reduced to one lane with construction near the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and a reduced number of hotel accommodations because of the flood.

KPD and the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office also utilized their React Team, which involves a larger group of officers who were visible in an all-terrain vehicle. The team can quickly get to a scene, reacting to incidents that need immediate attention in an area.

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Police Capt. Mike Young was stationed in a mobile command unit at 25th Street and Third Avenue where he, along with dispatchers, received incoming calls from the public, and quickly could send officers to the needed areas.

“I felt the overall party-mode was less,” Thompson said. “I felt we had adequate manpower and things went really smooth.”

At 8 p.m. the Kearney Volunteer Fire Department and KPD responded to a structure fire at 902 Central Ave., a single-family home. When firefighters arrived flames were coming out of two windows of the house. While the fire was outside Cruise Nite activities, KPD still had to assist with the investigation.

The fire was contained to the living room area, a KVFD news release said. Owner Stephen Larsen wasn’t home at the time of the fire, however, he was arrested on suspicion of arson. The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Nebraska State Fire Marshal.

Damage to the house was estimated by firefighters at $25,000 with an additional $5,000 damage to its contents.

For the first time KPD used social media to post some officers’ activity, including officer briefing, the command post and a motorcycle crash around 11:30 p.m. in the 700 block of Second Avenue. One person was transported to a Kearney hospital for non-life threatening injuries he suffered in the crash.

Another image on KPD Facebook page shows an officer searching a vehicle for an alcohol violation with a case of beer sitting nearby on the street.

“I wanted to show people what we do and how we do it,” Thompson said. “And it gives a flavor of the range of things we do during Cruise Nite.”

By 2 a.m. Sunday, most crowds were gone from West 25th Street, Thompson said, officers didn’t have to do their typical “walk and push” in an effort to get crowds to disperse.

“That’s something I’ve never not done, up until two nights ago,” he said.

In addition to KPD and BCSO, officers from the Nebraska State Patrol and UNK Police patrolled after Cruise Nite activities.