New investigator on board at York County Sheriff’s Department

YORK COUNTY – Bailey McLellan’s first day with the York County Sheriff’s Department was Jan. 1.

“It was a great day to start,” McLellan jokes, with York County Sheriff Paul Vrkba doing the same.

“Yes, it was a trying time to be in this business,” Sheriff Vrbka said, reflecting on the challenges of working in law enforcement during the month of January with record snows and horrible below-zero temperatures. “It was certainly a tough time to start a new job in this field. She was out with the rest of us, working a lot of wrecks and doing first response.”

But start she did and she’s been a member of the YSO ever since.

McLellan is currently working with York County Sheriff Lt. Alex Hildebrand, as she has been hired as an investigator for the department. She is specializing in investigations for cases involving sexual assault, abuse and abandonment of children. Since joining the local sheriff’s department, she’s attended training in this field as well.

She grew up in Lincoln, later moving to Omaha. She attended  Creighton University and later joined the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) as a trooper. She worked with the NSP for two years, before coming to York County.

“Law enforcement runs in my family,” she said. “I first started in college pursuing a degree in nursing and worked in the emergency room. But I quickly decided it just wasn’t for me. I loved the adrenaline rush of working in the emergency room, but it wasn’t quite the fit I was looking for. God bless the people who do, but it just wasn’t for me. Then I thought why not go into law enforcement?”

It’s historically ironic how she’s working for the York County Sheriff’s Department. Her father, the former Nebraska State Patrol Col. Tom Nesbitt, started his 31-year law enforcement career right here in York County, as a sheriff’s deputy in 1977. He was a mentor for now-York County Sheriff Vrbka, when he started working in law enforcement.

“It’s like things came full circle,” Sheriff Vrbka said.

“Yes, it really did,” Deputy McLellan said.

Sheriff Vrbka was quick to note his past relationship with her father, the longtime leader of the NSP and a former member of the YSO, had nothing to do with her hiring. “A hiring team, not me, chooses our new employees. She was solely hired based on her experience, her work ethic, her willingness to serve in this position. It’s hard to find someone who wants do investigation work in child assault, neglect, abuse cases. It takes a toll on you. I know, I did it for 10 years. This was one of her goals, to work with victims, make a difference. This was her passion and we saw it right away.”

“I felt I was ready for a change,” McLellan said. “I looked into it, as my husband and I were looking to leave Omaha.”

The couple wanted a fresh start in a smaller town than Omaha.

“I never lived in a town smaller than Lincoln or Omaha, so this is a change for me, but a really good change,” she said. “My husband grew up in a small town and this has been a great change for us. And I want to work on cases to help people, regarding neglect, abuse and sexual assault. It’s very important. I think there’s an art to law enforcement, as certain people are so good, so skilled, in serving in certain areas.”

“And serving in this type of capacity is hard, it’s challenging working these types of cases. You have to have empathy but you can’t get emotionally involved,” Sheriff Vrbka said.

Deputy McLellan says she’s very fortunate to be working with Lt. Hildebrand. “I’ve learned so much and he’s a great mentor in this field.”

“What we are unfortunately seeing in York County is there are so many more cases in this area than we’ve seen in the past,” Sheriff Vrbka said.

The sheriff says that yes, unfortunately there are many aspects of today’s society that contribute to these types of cases. But he also feels more people – in schools, churches, daycares – are now trained to recognize signs of child abuse, which leads to more investigations, cases and convictions.

“I wish we weren’t as busy as we are with these types of cases, but we have restructured our staff with two investigators now because it’s necessary,” Sheriff Vrbka said. “We are glad to have her on board.”

“I’m excited to be here, working for York County,” McLellan said. “And I’m here, ready to work, doing the work.”

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