IFA Chapter 44

For Bigger and Better Footprints

With numbers waning, Capitol City Footprinters Chapter 44 dissolves
BY DENNIS BUCKLEY for the Neighborhood Extra
July 29, 2022

After a 54-year history of honoring the work of law enforcement agencies, Capitol City Footprinters Chapter 44 has written its final chapter.

The Lincoln-based organization had 200-plus members in its heydays in the 1980s. It had fewer than 20 members – a half-dozen really active, actually – when Nebraska’s last Footprinters chapter was formally dissolved June 30 at the International Footprint Association Grand Convention in Denver.

It’s the end of an era, and the latest example of how civic organizations struggle with recruiting members and getting them involved.

“This is something we sadly regret, but it’s something we felt we had to do,” said Gene Giles, a retired Lincoln Police Department officer and 31-year veteran of the LPD (1963-1994). “I consider this one of the greatest organizations around. I hate to see it go.”

But, there’s a time for everything, and when the remaining diehards met last December to discuss the chapter’s future, the general consensus was that to keep the chapter alive would only delay the inevitable.

“Those who remained active are all getting up there in age, and there was no one to pass the baton to,” said Giles, a chapter member since 1984 who served three one-year terms as president (1990-1991, 2011-2012 and 2021-2022).

Other longtime members who remained on the membership rolls when the chapter folded were Gary Hoffman (a charter member with 54 years of continuous membership), David Goehring (38 years), Donna Atkins (32 years), Karen Winney (30 years), Rick Faith (26 years), Giles’ wife Barbara Giles (23 years), Cheryl Goehring (23 years) and James Winney (22 years).

A chapter of leaders

Chapter 44 closes its books with the distinction of having five members who served as grand president of the International Footprint Association: the late Lou Greiner (president of the charter club in 1968); his son, the late Bill Greiner; Gene Giles, David Goehring and Karen Winney.

Chapter 44 also made history when Winney was elected in 2014 as the first woman to be grand president of the International Footprint Association.

History had been made in 1988, when Footprinters attending the annual convention in Denver voted to accept women within its ranks. A year earlier, the national association had received a letter from three of Lincoln’s top law enforcement officials at the time – Lincoln Police Chief Dean Leitner, Lancaster County Sheriff Ron Tussing and UNL Police Chief Gail Gade – urging to change the Footprinters’ membership restriction, citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that affirmed a California law requiring that state’s Rotary clubs to admit women.

The Lincoln-based chapter also made history that same year, when Bill Greiner, a Lancaster County sheriff’s captain at the time, was named to the top national post – 13 years after his father held the title. The Greiners became the first father-and-son tandem to hold the top national office.

Several hundred honored

Each year since 1984, Chapter 44 has conducted an annual Law Enforcement Awards dinner, honoring an Officer of the Year from each of the following agencies: Lincoln Police Department, Lincoln Fire & Rescue, Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department, Lancaster County Corrections, Nebraska State Patrol, Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Nebraska Fire Marshal’s Office and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police Department.

For the past 17 years, the chapter expanded the recognition program by also honoring dispatchers for the Nebraska State Patrol, the University of Nebraska Police Department and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Communication Center.

Four agencies helped

With the closing of its financial books, Capitol City Chapter 44 drained its existing treasury by disbursing its remaining funds with a four-way split of approximately $2,400. The following organizations received funds:

  • Law Enforcement Memorial at the Hall of Justice;
  • The Food Bank of Lincoln;
  • Lighthouse; and
  • Beatrice Merry Family YMCA.

The folding of Chapter 44 leaves the International Footprint Association with 17 chapters.

Lou Greiner

Bill Greiner

Gene Giles

David Goehring

Karen Winney