OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer has been leading Nebraska’s largest police department since 2012.
“I've got 900 officers and half a million people in this city, and I really look at it as, 'Things are going to happen,'" he said. "It's my job to try and lead and navigate through it to the best of my ability."
Schmaderer is proud of the department’s community partnerships. He frequently attends the Empowerment Network’s Omaha 360 meetings.
“We've always had strong pride in our police-community relations because it's just a good way of doing business," he said. "We feel it's the best way to reduce crime and improve quality of life in the community."
Schmaderer said the numbers speak for themselves, as crime has continuously decreased in Omaha since 2012 and has been below the national average.
“If you take a look at the last nine years of the Omaha Police Department's work and look at the accomplishments we've made and the advancements in police-community relations and the reduction of crime, and violent crime especially,” said Schmaderer.
2020’s numbers vary, as the pandemic uniquely changed crime stats as well as the way the department conducted its policing.
“It's very hard, very hard, when we're trying to work with our community, and you can't do it face to face," he said. "Very hard to do crime prevention and intervention when we're trying to avoid human contact because of the pandemic."
The 2020 summer protests also had a direct impact on the department. Extra resources and personnel were needed to help manage the protests. The profession was also scrutinized nationwide after the death of George Floyd.
“It was tough for the officers when the intrinsic value that they have in this job was taken from them. So that's taken a toll on them. Plus, they have families and are in a pandemic just like everybody else is. So we've really increased our peer support and any counseling that we can provide on that front, and we've increased it tremendously,” said Schmaderer.
That focus on mental health is also geared towards community services.
The Chief said the department has added several co-responders to its CORE squad. He added, “We’ve really beefed up our game on that front because when we were first started doing it, we knew there was a pool and there was a demand...we're finding out that that pool was far deeper than what we thought.”
To cater to all demographics, Schmaderer said OPD has also become more intentional in hiring more diversity in the past decade. It’s paying off. This year’s OPD recruitment class is the largest and most diverse in the history of the department.
“We've also had our representative groups...our Black Police Officers Association, our Latino Police Officers Association, our women's group. We've had them involved in the recruiting process to reach out, reach out to those who may be struggling to get into this profession because of everything that's taken place," he said.
As the hope grows for the pandemic to end, Schmaderer said they’re planning on going back to focusing on crime prevention.
He said, “Our goal moving forward is, once we get out of this pandemic, it's our goal to go back to about a one-third mix. One-third of intervention, one-third of prevention, and one-third of enforcement."
3 News Now will have more on the interview with Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer on Friday as part of our Moving Forward special.