The Lincoln Police Department plans to apply for a federal grant to add two police officers, allowing the department to devote more resources to fight gang-related crime.
The grant from the Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS) would pay 75 percent of the cost of salary and benefits, up to $125,000 per officer per year for three years.
“Crime in Lincoln has been declining consistently and significantly since peaking in 1991, but law enforcement officials, residents and I have become concerned with what appears to be an increase in the intensity of gang-related crimes,” said Mayor Chris Beutler.
“Last year, there were three gang-related murders in Lincoln. I have received two confidential briefings from our police department about emerging inter-gang conflict and violence in the past two years. This grant would allow us to be more proactive in this area by committing more resources to gang investigation and intervention.”
Police Chief Jim Peschong said the city has seen an 18 percent increase in documented gang membership in just the last seven months. “This past year we’ve connected several patterns of convenience store robberies to organized gang activity. In addition to the three gang-related murders, a fourth was committed by a gang member carrying a gun. We want to stay ahead of these situations in which gang members are carrying weapons and involving themselves in violent crime.”
“Responding after the fact is not as effective as prevention and early intervention,” said Lincoln Public Safety Director Tom Casady. “By committing more resources to gang intervention we will improve our chances of avoiding gang violence in the community, interrupt gang recruitment and prevent the retaliatory violence.”