December 11, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Omaha Police Department Officer Greg Hansen has seen the worst humanity offers.

He witnessed the aftermath of the Von Maur shootings. He has taken down drug addicts so high they were impervious to pain. He has seen people die in countless ways.

“The cruelty one can do to another is pretty nasty,” Hansen, 55, says.

He doesn’t feel old and jaded, yet a hint of cynicism hangs off the shoulders of his faded blue uniform.

After 30 years, two months, and two weeks (not that he’s counting), Hansen put aside his weapon and retired in September.

Hansen drove his police cruiser, rode his mountain bike, or walked the Riverfront patrol (16th Street to the river from Leavenworth to Cuming streets). Or he hopped on a two-wheeled, battery-operated Segway, good for sneaking up on criminals.   

He amassed a huge black book filled with his usual offenders. Hansen usually checked the warrants before heading out to the streets.

Panhandling, drinking, and disorderly conduct were the norm. “Someone once described an officer’s day as 7 hours and 58 minutes of boredom, and two minutes of sheer terror,” Hansen says.

Some calls made the hair on the back of his neck stand up, yet he never fired his 40-caliber pistol.

He was bitten twice and lost a knuckle taking down a brutal felon. A rapist beat a woman so badly her head no longer looked round, yet she managed to escape. When Hansen arrived at her apartment, the rapist was still there, passed out and naked save for one sock. There was blood in the carpet, on the walls—even on the ceiling. He slapped one cuff on the perp when the guy woke up in a fighting mood. Hansen knocked him out, breaking his hand in the process.

Hansen believes gang violence and drug dealing is worse than in previous years. “Gangs are smart. It seems like whenever we arrested one crack dealer, another would just…boom!…right in their place,” he says.   

And yet, the job had its funny moments. When Hansen worked nights down at the Old Market, he saw his share of nightlife entertainment.

“It was not unusual to get a call on a Sunday morning about a car being stolen,” he says, laughing. “And it’s a block or two away. They don’t remember where they parked it because they were drunk the night before.”

He once pulled over a bunch of teenagers. When the driver rolled down the window, a familiar, earthy smell drifted out. When Hansen asked whose pot was in the center console, no one took credit.

“This is only a $100 fine,” he said.

“Dude…you’re getting ripped off,” one boy said, “I only paid $40 bucks
for that.”

Greg Hansen

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