Scotts Bluff County - Sheriff's Office

A Look Back in History

Scotts Bluff County was formed on January 15, 1889 with T. J. Fanning being elected as Sheriff. On April 17, the bond for Deputy Sheriff Jahile Keefer was approved by the Board of Commissioners. On May 18, Sheriff Fanning was authorized to contract for the construction of a jail, not to exceed $200. Twenty dollars worth of iron was purchased at the Gering and Beers Hardware Store. A structure made out of logs was was erected at the site of the present day Legion Park as was the original brick courthouse two years later, pursuant to a $15,000 bond issue. A two-story building known as the Sayre-Gering block (directly east of the Gering Civic Center) housed the County Clerk, Attorney and Sheriff in the early years.

In 1920, a new $250,000 courthouse was built in the center of town where it stands today. The Sheriff [F. H. Koenig] shared an office with the County Attorney on the third floor while the jail and Sheriff's residence were located on the fourth floor.

New Office
"In 1966, Scotts Bluff County was well along to a much needed new facility to house criminals. It would have two stories above ground plus a full basement and would be connected at the second story level to the existing courthouse with an enclosed bridge spanning 70 feet. Separate cell blocks were designed for boys, girls, men and women as well as hospital cells providing for a total capacity of 80 prisoners, not including those housed in the "drunk tank." Cell fronts were of a tool resistant grating with doors and locking electronically and remotely controlled. Provisions were made for a closed circuit television system and an automated sequencing sound surveillance system. The jail to cost $490,000."

First Murder
The first recorded murder in the newly-formed Scotts Bluff County took place on June 30, 1890, one half mile east of the Wyoming state line at a location about three-quarters of a mile south of the old Lyman High School building.

Albert F. Pippach was shot and killed by John F. Knapp. The deceased identified his killer by writing on an envelope with a sharpened revolver cartridge. W. H. Johnson acted as Coroner and Sheriff Milton Byal posted a $100 reward. Newspaper accounts heralded the event as a "cold-blooded and premeditated murder" and wrote, "if he is captured by other than officers of the law, he will likely be lynched in short order."

Further research indicated that during the same year in which Scotts Bluff County was formed, eight individuals were legally hanged in the state of Nebraska. Five of those were for the crime of horse stealing.

Duties of the Sheriff
"Sheriff [William J.] Senteney has been sticking up the annual notices over the county this week. The polling places are the same as last year..." (Oct 18, 1895.)

"State Governor Mickey...issued a proclamation that all cattle should be dipped when the disease is known to exist... The Sheriffs of the counties are instructed to see that the proclamation is enforced..." ((Mar 25, 1904) - Runey C. Campell was the Sheriff of Scotts Bluff County.

"George Thrasher is again in the hands of officers, providing the authorities at Little Falls, Minnesota are not mistaken in their identification. They wired Sheriff [F. O.]Aaron, and also responded to further queries with absolute assurance that the man they have fills all the specifications of the Bertillion measurements and descriptions.." (Jan 10, 1913.)

"Deputies Morris and Moorehouse yesterday raided the residence of John Dietrich in the northeast corner of this city, and captured about the most complete outfit for making hooch that has been seen since prohibition went into effect. Three separate stills were in operation.." (Sept 24, 1920)

The first bank robbery in the North Platte valley was that of the First National Bank of Morrill, when two men entered the institution about two o'clock Monday afternoon, leveled guns on W. J. Cline, bookkeeper, and ordered him to dump all the money into a gunny sack..." (Mar 25, 1932.) - Sheriff Vincent S. Ramsey was assisted by Deputy State Sheriff E. E. Clark.

"The FBI has formally declared Sheriff Mahlon C. Morgan and Otto Sorensen, Chief of Police... they have completed their course satisfactorily and are so recognized by J. Edgar Hoover himself. They attended the one-week civilian defense school held in North Platte..." (Mar 20, 1942)

"Burglars practically tore the safe of the Inter-City Lumber Company here to pieces early Thursday morning...Sheriff Steve Warrick said it was the first "blow" job in Scotts Bluff County in his experience as a law officer. Nitroglycerine had been poured in the cracks around the safe door, sealing in and detonated with devastating effect..." (June 19, 1953)

Sheriff Steve Warrick said thru cooperation of various officials, two way radios have been installed in 16 units in the county and are operated by police officials, fire departments and other units used for rescue work..." (Apr 1, 1960)

"The Scotts Bluff County Sheriff's Department received three opportunities to use its new mobile crime lab this Sunday in Gering. Cox Drug was broken into, an attempted break-in was reported at McCosh Drug and a stolen pickup was recovered... Undersheriff Don Clark..." (May 10, 1973)

"A resolution allowing Scotts Bluff County to partially fund a narcotics investigation program was passed Monday by the County Board of Commissioners...Western Nebraska Intelligence and Narcotics Group (WING) will receive 75 percent of its funding, or $183,000 thru a federal grant. The county will be responsible for 25 percent, or $61,148..." (May 9, 1989)

On February 24, 2003, the Sheriff's Office moved into its newly remodeled quarters on the second floor of the Scotts Bluff County Administration building in Gering and has called it home ever since. The new Scotts Bluff County Detention facility, located just north of the old Western Sugar factory in Gering is scheduled to open in the fall of 2007.

Plans are now in the works to form a "joint criminal investigation center" with the Gering and Scottsbluff Police Departments and the Scotts Bluff County Sheriff's Office.

Scotts Bluff County Sheriffs

  • 1889-1890 - T. J. Fanning
  • 1890-1892 - Milton Byal
  • 1892-1894 - W. H. Walker
  • 1894-1896 - William J. Senteney
  • 1896-1900 - Eugene T. Westervelt
  • 1900-1902 - Robert G. Walsh
  • 1902-1906 - Runey C. Campbell
  • 1906-1910 - Jim P. Westervelt
  • 1910-1914 - William J. Hunt
  • 1914-1917 - F. O. Aaron
  • 1917-1931 - F. H. Koenig
  • 1931-1939 - Vincent S. Ramsey
  • 1939-1951 - Mahlon C. Morgan
  • 1951-1968 - S. K. Warrick, Jr.
  • 1968-1969 - James R. Smith
  • 1969-1973 - Jim L. Miller
  • 1973-1975 - L. E. Knudtson
  • 1975-1987 - David R. Schleve
  • 1987-1987 - Richard Brandt
  • 1987-1995 - Charles F. Fairbanks
  • 1995-1999 - James L. Moore
  • 1999-2010 - Jim K. Lawson
  • 2011-Present - Mark L Overman

Updated: 2011.01.06 - 10:32 MDT