OPD Citizen Training Offers Insight into Policing

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Recent video of a rough arrest by the Omaha Police sparked outrage in the community. As of now, at least five officers involved have been either put on administrative leave or reassigned; however, as the internal investigation continues the department is offering the public a chance to learn about the internal workings of Omaha’s police force.

The Citizen Education Training Program has been offered through the Omaha Police Department’s Northwest Precinct for a number of years. Thursday night, another six-week class began.

In light of the recent allegations against the department, organizers continue to offer an open door to education. The idea is that even if someone is a critic of the department, Omaha police still strive to keep an open door to help educate the public. The six weeks begins with classes where students learn about drugs and gangs, ending with an optional use of force training simulation.

"This person here, where and how did he end up here? Whatever happened to him? Did it happen right here?” All questions posed by Northwest Precinct Captain Shayna Ray as she breaks down a crime scene.

"You need to analyze exactly what you need to do to solve this crime, we will set it up, students will have no idea what type of crime has happened here, they need to figure it out,” Captain Ray said.

Crime Scene Investigation is just one part of the once a week, six-week citizen training. The training room Captain Ray used, and what the program uses, is made possible by Kaplan University. The goal is to shed light into inner workings of the Omaha Police Department.

"They may wonder why an investigation is taking [so long] or why someone is not arrested immediately. They will know the process of what the police go through to solve the crime,” Captain Ray said. "You need to analyze exactly what you need to do to solve this crime, we will set it up, students will have no idea what type of crime has happened here, they need to figure it out.”

The idea is that even if someone is a critic of the department, Omaha police still strive to keep an open door to help educate the public. The six weeks begins with classes where students learn about drugs and gangs, ending with an optional use of force training simulations.

"He’s got a gun and a hostage, so you need a clear shot to make sure you do not kill the hostage." Captain Ray walks our cameras through just one of the numerous training scenarios that students would face inside the Use of Force Simulator, Judgment Lab on the campus of Kaplan University.

Capt. Ray says each situation is different but all call for quick thinking and smart response. "We will be setting up some high risk scenarios, so the students will have to make some quick judgments on the use of force. People don't always know why maybe they can't get into their home for a while because of the yellow crime scene tape. Maybe they don't understand why officers react the way they do."

Believing through education, an open door can strengthen the relationship between Omaha police and the community. The program is offered two times a year through the Northwest precinct; the next class is scheduled to begin in the fall. Two other precincts also offer similar classes.


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