Community speaks out about city violence


April 12th, 2011

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Omaha, NE – A recent rash in gun violence has rocked the city of Omaha, but the Omaha Police Department insists the city is safe.

City councilman Ben Gray (right) joined Omaha Police Chief Alex Hayes (3rd from left, seated) at a community forum Monday night (Photo by Lindsey Peterson)

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.

A violence forum held at Omaha North High School on Monday drew about 70 people. (Photo by Lindsey Peterson)

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.”

Terrell Dawdy

“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.

John Vonner

“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.”

2 Responses

  1. L Richard says:

    I live on the quiet end of Fontenelle Blvd and Merridith. But I can sit and look out my window and watch them do drug deals next to my house across the street and in the parking lot of Walgreens. But by the time you call the police and tell them what is going on it may be another 45 minutes before you even see a patrol car come through the neighborhood.

  2. K Bender says:

    In response to Terrell Dawdy’s quote, I want to state that the old adage that poor criminals are committing crimes because they do not have jobs is completely false, and it disgusts me that criminals would use this excuse as a way to get around the fact that this gives them a good reason to commit felonies and return to a life of crime. I personally know some criminals and ex-cons. Some of them work, have jobs, or come from affluent families; yet, these individuals committed crimes mostly for the thrill, excitement, power, and the pleasure of doing them, not for lack of money. The ones who were not from affluent family or had any money still committed crimes even when or after being given jobs by people who wanted to give them a better opportunity to acheive their goals in life and pay their bills without being judge for their past life. Even more, some of these individuals committed crimes not because they did not have money, but because they also had problems being violent because of anger issues, rage, wanting to practice violence, refused treatment, therapy, rehabilitation, and chose not to take any responsibility or accountability for their actions and behavior. Some of these people are are Hyde and Jekyll; they pretend to want to be caring reformed citizens when they are heinous repeat offenders who are dangerous and should not be back on the street since they continue to commit crimes jobs or no jobs which is why crime escalates in the community. You can’t have criminals committing heinous or repeat offenses then returning back to the community without an effective program that brings together resources and organizations to monitor, assist, rehabilitate, increase accountability, expect responsibility, plus safely and effectively transition successfully felons back to the community while protecting the community from these felons. For example, many young men or women may not have positive role models actively involved in their lives or healthy loving supportive mothers and fathers in their lives so when they come out of jail or prison, they are back around the same people who are only encouraging and motivating them to stay the same, not change, and continue to commit crimes. So before releasing someone out to go back to hanging around with drug dealers and gangsters, there can be a place where they will live where they can be away from these individuals and the community, also, be safe while they are making a healthy and successful transition back to living in society without committing more crimes. I vow that if God allows and helps me, I will put my money and efforts forward to start such a program. Now, that would help the community and felons. So all I ask is who wants to initiate it? Bar none and no excuses! Who’s with me?

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