Cops and community

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November 15th, 2011

Omaha, NE – Police in northeast Omaha are hoping to build relationships with their community, and they’re starting with the kids. KVNO News caught up with some little fishers for this week’s community report.

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Annual "Cops and Bobbers" was held at Omaha's Benson Park. (Photo by Angel Martin)

As geese proudly paddled in the Benson Park pond on a recent fall afternoon, over 140 North Omaha kids waited for fish to bite their bait. After an hour at it, eight-year-old Caleb Robinson wasn’t ready to leave without pulling another fish out of the water.

“I only got one fish,” he said. “I did this twice, I did it last year and this year, and I only got one.”

For the second year now, Omaha’s Northeast Precinct’s Weed and Seed program sponsored Cops and Bobbers – a free fishing event for kids between the ages of eight and 18 and police who work in the North Omaha area. Kerry Neumann is the captain of the Northeast Precinct. “This gives the kids and their parents a chance to deal with police officers in a different setting, a much more relaxed setting,” he said. “Some of the police officers are in uniforms; some of them are in street clothes. It’s just a great way to build relationship with kids from our community.”

Over 60 police officers attended the annual Cops and Bobbers event. (Photo by Angel Martin)

Improving the often tense relationship between officers and the community has been a priority for at least ten years now, Neumann said, especially for his precinct. He said the best place to start building strong relationships is with the kids.

[For] “many kids from the Northeast precinct, their only exposure to the police is to see them with lights and sirens on, to see them arresting people, taking them to jail,” Neumann said. “There’s way more to policing than that.”

Back at the park, Caleb Robinson said next year he plans to catch four fish. “When the police guys helped with the fishing poles, I just got better and better,” he said.

Barbara Robinson is Caleb’s mother. She also works with at-risk youth as a program manager for the gang intervention program Impact One.

13-year-old Casey Thomas attended "Cops and Bobbers", and got a chance to check out the OPD horses. (Photo by Angel Martin)

“Now days, young children are being raised to think that officers are against them,” Robinson said. “But this shows them that they are not, and that they can have fun with them.”

“There are actually officers who you see in uniforms, who are literally hooking up worms, reeling out the fishing poles, helping the kids, running when the kids are having a problem,” she said. “So it builds a friendship with officers and kids.”

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