Comunity leaders host community-policing event

Posted at 10:29 PM, Aug 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-13 23:29:18-04

As part of their efforts to continue rebuilding community relations between local police and the community, the Empowerment Network held a back to school community forum at North High School. 

On Saturday, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer emphasized the major progress that's been done between police and the community since the Empowerment Network started in 2007, after a record of 42 shootings took place in July of that year. 

Despite nationwide tension, Chief Schmaderer and organizers say thye must remain united, not because of violence, but in spite of it. 

"As Chief of a major city, I said, we need to solve this. We need to show the community that our crime isn't going to escalate in the city of Omaha," says schmaderer. 

Schmaderer says his department, with the support of local organizations, remain determined to rebuild Omaha and reduce crime. 

Willie Hamilton, Executive Director for Black Men United says police can't solve crimes without the community's help, and the community can't reduce crime without police. He says a just relationship between both is crucial in tackling the violence and crime in Omaha. 

"Any police officer tell you how to solve crime -  he'll say, community tells you about what's going on," says Hamilton. "So how do you get the community and the police department to put down the distrust piece and to engage each other? You organize these types of forums."

For nearly six years, the Omaha group has held weekly forums with the goal to rebuild and restore the problems from all side and end the violence for good. 

Chief Schmaderer says these ongoing forums help set goals and measure progress.

"Leadership plays a key role, but to be able to have these types of interactions, where people feel comfortable, and be able to come in this space and voice their concerns has to take place," says Hamilton.

"That's why I always say Omaha is a very fortunate place to be. I've always experienced great community support. We have tremendous leaders in every sector of our community. And the key to reducing crime in a city is by investing in these type of relationships," says Schmaderer. 

Willie Hamilton says these efforts have gone a long ways, and Omaha's crime rates continue to be better than most other cities, but says Omaha needs to continue with these events to get past historical issues between those that wear the badge and the community. 

"Some of the things happening in Omaha are good, but have we arrived? No way."