Patrolling Woodcliff

George Wolsleben, chief of security for Woodcliff Lakes, was awarded Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. (Photo by Nancy McGill)

WOODCLIFF – At Woodcliff Lakes, the population will jump from 1,200 to 5,000 seemingly overnight, as the summer season gets underway.

The hours will pick up for George Wolsleben, the community’s chief security officer.

“On the holiday weekends, you will have 15,000 people because of the family reunions and big events,” he said.

If he needs help, Wolsleben will call on law enforcement from Saunders and Dodge counties or the Nebraska State Patrol.

Wolsleben has patrolled the waters at Woodcliff for nearly 20 years. At the beginning of every season, he spends the first three weekends in May teaching the state’s boater safety class. He said students are anywhere from eight years old to their 70s.

Wolsleben tries to keep the class size at 25, but he’s had double the load at times. He said the course is recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard and was adopted by Nebraska.

This year, he will teach the class with distinction.

Wolsleben was awarded Nebraska Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year earlier this month by the Nebraska Games and Parks Commission. He was nominated by Saunders County Sheriff Kevin Stukenholtz.

Herb Angel from the game and parks commission commended Wolsleben for his dedication to education and prevention of boating-related accidents and fatalities.

“I suggest everyone take the course. It has made a huge difference,” Wolsleben said.

That huge difference could also have something to do with Wolsleben’s knowledge of law enforcement.

“I’ve been a cop for 34 years, 16 of that for the Yinta County Sheriff’s office in Wyoming,” he said.

During the awards program, Angel noted Wolsleben’s thorough investigation of a boating accident. Angel said by the time Game and Parks arrived to complete the investigation, Wolsleben had taken care of it.

It was just after the Fourth of July, Wolsleben said. A tubing accident resulted in a young woman’s death. The boat driver was subsequently charged and pled guilty to manslaughter.

“He pled down, but it was a successful prosecution,” Wolsleben said.

Crime isn’t high around Woodcliff, he said.

“Everyone would love to have our crime rate,” he said.

While there aren’t many, the crimes committed at Woodcliff have been serious, he said.

Last year, Wolsleben found himself in a foot chase with several people suspected in thefts. Wolsleben knew at least one of the suspects from a camera shot. He had arrested him the year before.

While on foot pursuit, Wolsleben was ambushed by one of the suspects, who he arrested. Other suspects were found hiding in a boat.

That ring, which included five cousins from North Omaha, were found to be involved in thefts from five counties – Saunders, Burt, Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawattamie.

Another incident took place about 14 years ago, Wolsleben recalled. A federal fugitive had taken refuge at Woodcliff. The U.S. Marshals were looking for the man.

“We are not immune to these cases. We are close

enough to the metro,” Wolsleben said.

He appreciates his award and said it means a lot.

“We don’t do this for the awards, we do this because it’s a rewarding career.”

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