Omaha looks to combat its homicide problem


January 20th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Omaha police, city officials and even residents know that many Nebraskans think the state’s largest city is violent.  Much of that reputation is driven by Omaha’s relatively high number of homicides – 40 in 2012. Of those, more than half occurred in northeast Omaha, where poverty, unemployment and substandard housing is rampant.

Willie Barney, president of north Omaha’s revitalization organization, the Empowerment Network, says it’s those factors that fuel the area’s gangs and gun violence. University of Nebraska at Omaha criminal justice professor John Crank says decades of disinvestment by businesses in the area have also contributed to north Omaha’s violent crime and high murder rate.

Police and community groups are using everything from weekly progress meetings to summer jobs programs to reduce violent crime.