Omaha Police Oversight Board Created

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Click here to read the entire executive order

There’s a new plan on the table to address the ongoing question of who polices the police in Omaha. A Citizen Review Board will be tasked with sorting through complaints.

Mayor Jean Stothert, police management and the police union have worked for months to structure the board that will serve as the go-to location for citizen complaints against police.

The board itself will consist of five members, one from each precinct plus one at-large member. There will also be an alternate. Then there will be three non-voting advisers to the board: someone from Omaha Police command; someone from the Human Rights and Relations Department and someone from the City Law Department.

The board members will not be paid. They will not have subpoena powers and they will not conduct their own investigations. They will review only what police investigate after the complaint is made.

The mayor said, “We've had a Citizens Review Board in the past. We had an auditor in the past. In my opinion, neither worked extremely well. This is a different approach. Like I said, got a lot of input. Basically I feel there is the ability with a board for broader citizen oversight.”

The mayor's executive order is not playing well in some parts of North Omaha. While some see it as a step in the right direction, others see it as political sideshow.

The intent is to build trust between police and the citizens of Omaha.

Robert Wagner reviews the mayor's executive order that creates the board. Wagner has filed a complaint against the police for a rough arrest in the past and he said Friday action doesn't go far enough. He said the board will have no power to create change in a police force that needs change.

"This is just a patchwork,” he said. “Just put together almost like a campaign promise. She just threw something out here and I don't believe it has any merit at all. As far as being a help in terms of that trust between the community and police, it's not going to do anything for that."

Community leader Willie Hamilton actually laughed at the mayor's proposal. He said people in the minority community are outraged at the idea of the weak panel with no power.

Hamilton said, “Not all police officers are bad but history speaks for itself. We can go back to Robert Ammons, George Bibbins, just recently Robert Wagner. You got the Johnson family, then the filing of an ACLU lawsuit and the best we can do is a citizen review board with a bunch of volunteers with no subpoena power? That's ridiculous."

Stothert unveiled the plan at a news conference where she was joined by Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer and Omaha Police Union President John Wells. Stothert said she wants to have the board operating within a matter of weeks.


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