Calls for police auditor are quiet
May 12th, 2011
Omaha, NE – Many are familiar with the Rodney King incident, a case that sparked national attention on police brutality. And, although it happened back in 1991 in Los Angeles, CA, some locals say these incidents are still happening today right here in their own back yard. Over the weekend, Nebraskans for Peace hosted a community meeting on the topic, but nobody showed up.
On a warm spring day, at the Charles Washington Branch Library in North Omaha, Mark Welsch, is seated in the meeting room by the door working on his laptop. Welsch is the Omaha Coordinator for Nebraskans for Peace. He waits for people to join the meeting, and hopes to get more stories of local police brutality.
“I’ve heard stories from people about how the police will stop young black men in their cars. And, get those men out of their car, and then get their car keys from them, and put their keys on the driver seat, and then lock the doors, and shut their doors, and tell them to have a nice day and tell they to leave,” Welsch said, and called the alleged incidents a form of “terrorism.”
Welsch said most police officers are upstanding, but he said it’s the two to three percent of trouble makers, as he calls them, that create problems in minority communities.
Omaha hasn’t had an independent police auditor monitoring citizen complaints since 2006. But, if a person has a problem with a police officer, they can file a complaint with the department, which is investigated internally. Lt. Darci Tierney is the public information officer for the Omaha Police Department. Tierney said all complaints are taken seriously.
“We want to make sure that our officers are doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” she said. “If they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we need to know about that so that we can address it.”
There were a number of protests demanding an independent police auditor in Omaha in 2006 and 2007, but for the last couple years, protesters have been quiet. After about an hour and half at the library, no one showed up to Welsch’s meeting. Welsch blamed the low attendance on a lack of advertising on his part and the controversial subject matter.