When Chief of Police John Prusia is not out and about, he can be seen working at his desk at the Henderson Police Department on Main Street
Being in law enforcement is sometimes a thankless job. There are many challenges, especially for Henderson’s Chief of Police, John Prusia, who runs a one-man show keeping Henderson safe. It’s been about four years since Chief Prusia took over for the longtime Chief of Police Milan Mierau, and he has been up to the task.
He and his wife, April, and their three dogs have settled into life in Henderson, where they bought a home and have enjoyed getting to know the community. It’s a bit ironic that Prusia admits to being a real dog lover, but one of his number one calls is for “dog at large,” he said. But tracking down wayward dogs isn’t as serious as some of his calls.
“Henderson is not the quiet little Henderson of 25 years ago,” says Prusia. Unfortunately, Chief Prusia has seen plenty of evidence of drug activity in Henderson. “There are drugs in town; Henderson is no different than any other small town in America as far as that goes. I’ve had a couple of cases where I found quite a bit of methamphetamine and fentanyl.”
Chief Prusia carries with him Narcan (nasal spray overdose treatment), a first-aid kit, and recently received an AED defibrillator unit from a grant. “I’m usually the first man to show up when the rescue unit or firetruck go out, so I’m always prepared and trained to use these if needed,” he said.
Other frequent calls for Chief Prusia are domestic cases, sometimes involving assault. He works closely with the DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) when dealing with these types of situations. “I’ve received training with DHHS through Four Corners Health Department in York on how to handle a person having a mental crisis, among other things,” he said.
Keeping current with training is important in law enforcement. Currently, the state of Nebraska requires 32 hours of continuing education for Chief Prusia. “I utilize webinars for some of my hours, and I do in-person training reviewing the use of force and firearms policy and proficiency every year,” said Prusia. He also regularly attends an annual three-day conference hosted by the Nebraska Sheriffs and Police Association in Kearney.
Another issue that comes up frequently, especially since Henderson has an elderly population, is phone scams. “I always say if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is!” He warns everyone to be on the lookout for fraudulent scams.
During his time working here, Chief Prusia has seen firsthand how there is a need for a TeamMate mentoring program. “I am involved in TeamMates in York and would love to get it started here in the Heartland School. We have some kids who could use a good, positive person to look up to.”
It’s clear Chief Prusia has found a rhythm and flow to his work here in Henderson and loves interacting with people. “Just being out and about is the biggest part of my job and being seen. That in itself detours a lot of nonsense,” said Prusia. He tries to attend any sports events at the school and other public events when he is on duty.
His schedule varies depending on what’s going on, but he works many days, nights, weekends, and holidays. If he is out of town or on vacation, the York County Sheriff’s Department always provides backup. “York County is fantastic to work with and is always ready to provide me with any assistance I need,” said Prusia.
Chief Prusia welcomes anyone to contact him at 402-362-9268 if they need his assistance. All 911 calls originating from Henderson are relayed to Chief Prusia, and they decide if it’s something he can take care of or needs assistance from the York County Sheriff’s Department. Check out the Henderson Police Department’s Facebook page to keep up-to-date with any warnings or information he shares.