The Omaha Press Club’s June Forum focused on the gang situation in Omaha.
Guests were Lieutenant Ken Kanger, who is in charge of the Omaha Police Department’s Gang Unit and Janee Pannkuk, executive director of Impact One.
Kanger said there are about 82 gangs in the city, but only a dozen of those are currently active.
During the forum, he talked about how the OPD’s gang unit is structured and the resources that the city puts toward gang issues, including the use of suppression squads.
"Last shift change, the chief added a day shift crew because we started to see incidents like Peyton Benson, the 6-year old girl who was killed during the day. We started to see trends where some of the gang members knew when we had our resources available so we had to adjust to make sure we were adequately addressing the issues that were occurring. So we added a day shift crew that works on the streets. And we have an afternoon crew that can work anywhere from 1:00 in the afternoon to 4:00 in the morning. And we adjust those shifts depending on the things we are seeing in the city, whether it be activity at clubs or other locations.”
Kanger said the firearms squad was incorporated into the gang unit because gang members carry guns.
Since the first of the year, Kanger said more than two dozen significant gang members have been arrested for gun offenses.
KIOS will air the press club in its entirety on Monday, July 21st at Noon.