Community speaks out about city violence
April 12th, 2011
Omaha, NE – A recent rash in gun violence has rocked the city of Omaha, but the Omaha Police Department insists the city is safe.
The spree of shootings, which has occurred throughout the city has left four people dead, including one man who was fatally shot by an Omaha police officer. Last week, in broad daylight, one of the shooting incidents took place at the public Seymour Smith Park and another inside the front lobby of Creighton University Medical Center, prompting a lock down at the hospital.
Officer Jacob Bettin, a spokesperson for the Omaha Police Department, said, â€œThe police department has been deploying its resources in specific areas of the city where we believe likeliness for violence to occur may happen,” he said. “Weâ€™re also using information gathered from our intelligence units to place those resources in areas.”
Bettin added, “There are many reasons why things happen… sometimes weâ€™re aware, sometimes weâ€™re not.â€
Bettin said none of the recent shootings are believed to be random acts, as investigations continue, and said specific information like gang connections, arenâ€™t available for release. Bettin also said continued interaction with the public is very important to these crimes being solved.
â€œIf you see a vehicle parked in front of your house that youâ€™ve never seen before, and maybe somebody’s sitting in it, and theyâ€™ve been there for 20 minutes, thatâ€™s suspicious,” he said. “Thatâ€™s something that maybe that officers might not recognize.â€
â€œThose are the types of phone calls weâ€™re looking for, or prowlers late at night, or just information that you might hear about that needs to be passed along to an officerâ€¦ community and neighborhood interaction is very important to a lot of our investigations,â€ Bettin said.
At this time, Bettin said some of the shooting suspects have been arrested.
The grassroots organization Enough is Enough hosted a community forum Monday night at Omaha North High School. About 70 people attended the forum, which got heated at times. Terrell Dawdy said the violence wonâ€™t stop until there are more job opportunities. He said heâ€™s been out of prison for eight months, and finding a job was a challenge with his record.
â€œThe people out in the community want felons to be a better member of society,” Dawdy said. “But they donâ€™t allow them to become better members of society. Thatâ€™s why they go back to drugs, violence, gangs, battling, and doing all that stuff in the streets, and committing crimes and robbing people.”
â€œBecause we canâ€™t make any money out here, we canâ€™t get no jobs we canâ€™t pay our bills… Theyâ€™re out here selling drugs because the community wonâ€™t give them jobs,â€ he said.
John Vonner organized the violence forum. He said by working together, we can make the community a better place.
â€œI think the responsibility is on everybody,” he said, “it’s not just our police officers or the city officials.”
“Iâ€™m a strong advocate for the community to stand up, and take an interest in their neighborhood, and come against whatâ€™s happening in our city.â€