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, “The 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. “We’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 we’re aware, sometimes we’re not.”
Bettin said none of the recent shootings are believed to be random acts, as investigations continue, and said specific information like gang connections, aren’t available for release. Bettin also said continued interaction with the public is very important to these crimes being solved.
“If you see a vehicle parked in front of your house that you’ve never seen before, and maybe somebody’s sitting in it, and they’ve been there for 20 minutes, that’s suspicious,” he said. “That’s something that maybe that officers might not recognize.”
“Those are the types of phone calls we’re looking for, or prowlers late at night, or just information that you might hear about that needs to be passed along to an officer… community and neighborhood interaction is very important to a lot of our investigations,” 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 won’t stop until there are more job opportunities. He said he’s been out of prison for eight months, and finding a job was a challenge with his record.
“The people out in the community want felons to be a better member of society,” Dawdy said. “But they don’t allow them to become better members of society. That’s why they go back to drugs, violence, gangs, battling, and doing all that stuff in the streets, and committing crimes and robbing people.”
“Because we can’t make any money out here, we can’t get no jobs we can’t pay our bills… They’re out here selling drugs because the community won’t give them jobs,” he said.
John Vonner organized the violence forum. He said by working together, we can make the community a better place.
“I think the responsibility is on everybody,” he said, “it’s not just our police officers or the city officials.”
“I’m a strong advocate for the community to stand up, and take an interest in their neighborhood, and come against what’s happening in our city.”