2016 had lowest murder rate in Omaha in a decade

Posted at 10:59 PM, Jan 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-03 23:59:00-05

It's welcome news from the Omaha Police Department as the city saw the lowest number of murders in 2016 in a decade. 

29 people killed, most of those crimes are solved.

“Anytime we have a low number of homicides like that in the city of Omaha we are very happy with it,” said OPD Captain Kerry Newman.

2015 saw one of the highest murder rates in city history of 50, whereas 2016 had just 29 murders.

Another factor to consider is the homicide clearance rate, meaning how many crimes are solved, is at 86-percent, the highest in recent memory.  The national average is at 61-percent.

“We work very hard in trying to clear the cases for the families and give them some type of closure,” said OPD Lieutenant Stefanie Fidone.

Along with a lower murder rate, gun assaults also have gone down, from 192 in 2007 to 117 last year.

“We have a well-rounded police department and the aggressive work our gang unit does they also do community engagements with organizations in our community,” said Newman.

Organizations like the Empowerment Network -- focused on bringing groups together to solve community problems.

“The reduction in homicides the reduction in gun assaults all attribute to everyone working together and building on those strengths, one entity can not do it alone but collectively we really have seen some significant progress,” said Vicki Quaites-Ferris, director of operations at the Empowerment Network.

Progress spurred on by trusting the police department.

“We've gotten to that place where we've built up that trust, and I think because I think of that clearance rate which is significantly high I think you see the community and police working together,” said Quaites-Ferris.

While progress reducing the murder rate seems to have momentum the empowerment network says other factors leading to crime need to be addressed.

 “If we could put people to work and really work on getting that poverty down in our community I think that goes a long way with reducing violence,” said Jami Anders-Kemp, director of Omaha 360.

OPD said because of the high trust in the department, Crimestoppers tips and the money that comes from that have helped police solve many crimes.

The Empowerment Network said a New Year’s resolution is to join a neighborhood association.