Whether it’s serving as a Nebraska State Patrol Trooper, Hebron City Council member, probation officer in Nebraska’s largest cities, or a possible future part time gig with the Thayer County Sheriff’s Office, Sergeant Tim Pickering’s life has been all about public service and safety.
Pickering’s last day with the state patrol was Sept. 30 after 30 years of service.
He will miss his fellow officers, and take some time off, he said.
But Pickering remains steadfast in his commitment to Hebron, where he and his wife, Louise, decided to start a family and raise their children.
They came to Hebron as part of Pickering’s first duty station for the state patrol in 1990.
“We moved here before the end of the year and never left,” he said. “I didn’t know where Hebron was when I was stationed here. It was a good fit for us.”
Raised in Lincoln, Pickering earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and was a probation officer, first in Omaha, and then he transferred to Lincoln. He also had an interest in the U.S. Marshal’s service, but the chances of staying in Nebraska as a marshal were slim.
Pickering didn’t like working probation — he supervised more than 200 people and spent his days conducting pretrial interviews for offenses like driving under suspensions and other misdemeanors.
“That’s what I did all day,” he said. “I decided it wasn’t for me.”
Pickering saw opportunities to advance within the state patrol.
“The state patrol wasn’t tied to anything politically and I had a variety of choices,” he said. “Once you do your two years in patrol division, you can look at other offices, like drugs, canine or criminal.”
He took opportunities to perform more public service. For 22 years, Pickering taught CPR to other officers, and still teaches parents to properly install child car seats, something he has done for 18 years.
Pickering was also a hostage negotiator for 11 years.
“I had active hostage negotiation twice,” he said. “Negotiators try to end standoffs peacefully, that’s the goal. Our job is to keep them talking.”
As a patrol trooper, Pickering responded to accidents, assisted drivers and enforced traffic laws on the roads.
One area of his job he won’t miss is death notifications.
He has seen many changes over 30 years — the advancement of technology, such as automatic weapons, body cameras and computers in the patrol car have evolved.
Pickering said the cameras help.
“I think they’ve always helped, but I think they should be used to reinforce testimony. Either it happened or it didn’t and the video confirms that. It also helps catch things that weren’t observed.”
On today’s climate for officers, Pickering confirmed they are in danger, even in Nebraska. There’s intel on sabotage and ambushes.
It causes officers to be more vigilant and professional, Pickering said.
“I am less empathetic than I was 30 years ago. For the most part, the people I’m dealing with aren’t on good terms.”
Pickering went into law enforcement to help people feel safe, and a commander reaffirmed that when he told Pickering if children are outside riding their bicycles, it’s because they feel safe.
He’s enjoyed his time with the patrol, and wants to move on, but never once did he and Louise think about leaving Hebron.
“I worked out of my car and was my own boss. I enjoyed that,” he said.
He’s also relished in contributing to Hebron as a city council member. Pickering was appointed by former Mayor Shane Day and filed to keep the seat in 2018.
“I believe in the town and want it to thrive,” he said. “I wanted to contribute somehow and we’ve been accepted here.”