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Gang Unit removes more than 480 guns from Omaha streets in 2019

Posted at 10:52 AM, Jan 27, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Omaha Police Department's gang unit has honed in on gun violence and their efforts are paying off in the numbers.

According to recent data from OPD, homicide rates have dropped over the last four years.

On top of that, 482 guns were taken off the streets in 2019 by the gang unit, according to Lt. Keith Williamson.

"These are usually seized in either search warrants, traffic stops or arrests with an individual," Lt. Williamson said.

He adds these firearms were involved in all sorts of incidents, some still under investigation.

"The guns that come in, we trace back to try and find out where it was initially bought and who bought it," Lt. Williamson said. "We track what's called a 'time to crime,' which is a date from when the gun is purchased to when it was used in a legal offense."

The gang unit has focused on targeting illegal guns and investigating straw purchases, a federal crime where one person buys a gun for someone who is legally unable to purchase one themselves.

Deputy Chief Ken Kanger says by removing these guns from the streets of Omaha, it prevents future incidents.

"It gives us a rough number that basically when we get that gun off the street and we do test it and we find out it's been involved in two... maybe three previous incidents, which is a large volume of guns that we take off the streets, we know that we probably prevented at least one maybe two additional shootings," Kanger said.

Recent data released by the OPD showed 23 gun related homicides in 2019. The data shows violent crimes dropped, as well.

Williamson says the work the gang unit is doing, in regards to those firearms, is paying off, even though sometimes it's hard to see.

"It would be nice to be say, 'Hey, listen, we got this illegal firearm off the street, we prevented X, Y and Z because of that... I can't,'" Lt. Williamson said. "It's just you have to connect the dots on your own."