GI's Kortum Named Hastings' New Chief


Called a good cop, a good husband, and a good role model, Pete Kortum will now be called chief, a job his law enforcement career has been leading up to.

Friday, he was announced as the new police chief in Hastings, before a special city council meeting. He took the podium, saying he was excited and nervous.

"I'm really humbled too," he said.

Kortum was all smiles as he took the top job with a department he says does things the right way.

He said a Hastings businessman summed up it well. "I know the new chief will do some things, but one of his biggest challenges is don't screw it up."

It's a move both big and small for Kortum. It's just a few miles down the road from his long-time home.

"Grand Island has been very, very good for the Kortums," he said. The Kortums have raised four boys there, and he has served on the school board and been active in many community activities.

But it's also a big step, moving to a new city that has already welcomed him.

He said, "Everyone just loved living in Hastings, proud of the town, tell me what a great life they have here and solidified for us clearly this is the way to go and grow."

The mayor and city council had four solid finalists, two of them internal candidates, but after plenty of discussion, Kortum was the unanimous choice.

Mayor Vern Powers said, "Age, wisdom, stature. Obviously he's got a good resume behind him and good career track record."

Kortum has overseen everything from patrol officers to secretaries in Grand Island over a nearly 40–year career.

Everyone in the State Fair city seems to know him.

Kortum joked, "Sometimes I think half the cars that go by are honking and waving. Part know my wife, part know I'm a policeman, part know me personally but it's just the way it is and you'll miss that. I've got no doubt that's going to happen quick here. It's the kind of community Hastings is too."

His wife Mary has been there every step of the way as they've both given back to the community, especially interested in kids.

"Service" was a word that came up often Friday, when Kortum was introduced in front of the city council. And he said it's a word that retired Hastings Chief Larry Thoren was also known for. He hopes to continue that legacy.

He said, "Not only is it important for the chief to have involvement but to model and demonstrate and support that with officers. One of the more exciting things I've been involved in is to see men and women who worked with me they also start getting involved in schools and non–profits."

Kortum says pretty soon everyone in Hastings will know his wife Mary, but for now she's "the chief's wife."

It'll be a change to their friends, like Steve and Brenda Horn of Grand Island, who have been neighbors to the Kortums for decades, in two different neighborhoods.

Grand Island Chief Steve Lamken said, "I'm proud of him and can't think of anyone more deserving."

While Aurora Chief Godfrey Brokenrope praises Kortum as a great cop and equally good husband and role model.

Kortum will take over in December, with a salary of $85,000.