Community advocates call for investigation following gang assessment report

Aug 17, 2012

Three community advocates are asking the Department of Justice to look in to the findings revealed in a gang assessment report.

UNO criminal justice researchers Pete Simi and Dennis Hoffman interviewed 69 current and former gang members over a 15 month period for the assessment. Sam Walker, Tristan Bonn, and Willie Hamilton sent letters to the Justice Department last week.

Walker, a professor emeritus of Criminal Justice at UNO and police accountability advocate, says the report shows a need for reform.  "The city of Omaha is simply in denial about the conduct of the Omaha Police Department, and about the gang problem in Omaha. They just don’t want to hear anything that’s critical of existing practices regarding the gang problem, they’ve made a significant effort to try to suppress the gang assessment report, and it’s just very unfortunate. And we’re just not going to make any progress until we face up to reality."

One letter asks the Department of Justice to investigate alleged criminal misconduct by Omaha Police. The other requests an investigation in to alleged civil rights violations.

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer told Omaha Public Radio earlier this week that he believed the gang assessment report was inaccurate and incomplete. The city of Omaha and the Empowerment Network requested the gang assessment report. Both are now critical of it.

KIOS reached out to the Omaha Police Department and the Empowerment Network for comment.