Government
2:55 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

OPD to expand gang unit, add staff

The Omaha Police Department’s gang unit will expand, and add a specialist in South Omaha.

That’s among the recommendations from an Illegal Gun Task Force. OPD will also add relief unit staff during the afternoon hours. The task force released its recommendations last September.

Mayor Jim Suttle says it’s part of an effort to increase police presence where violence happens. "The goal of this task force was to help existing groups promote what is working, but also to explore any new avenues that may exist to dispense with the illegal guns and to stop the chronic offenders. We can’t afford to lose lives in this city to gang violence. There are too many armed robberies in our community, and too many people resorting to gun violence."

Existing city funds, and grant money, will pay for the additional staff. Mayor Suttle says a steering committee will be set up along with Omaha 360 and the Empowerment Network to work on community strategies to reduce violence.

Omaha ended 2012 with 40 homicides. A majority of those were shooting deaths.