Police Communication Plans Move Forward

Communication between police and the community has been an issue for years, especially in North Omaha. We’re getting a progress report on the mayor’s attempt to fix that.

Mayor Jean Stothert has proposed formation of a five-member review board to oversee complaints against police but not everyone is convinced that’s the answer.

The board will be comprised of five volunteers and while 130 applicants have filed paperwork for membership consideration, we're told those names are not public record. The mayor is expected to announce the appointments in March.

Robert Wagner remains skeptical of the mayor's proposed citizen review board. He said, “There is just no teeth, no reason for the officers to comply. There's no reason for anybody in the North Omaha community to feel like this is the solution."

Wagner himself filed a complaint for his high-profile arrest nearly three years ago. He was unhappy with the outcome when fired officers were given their jobs back.

"When someone sees a police officer, you want to be able to believe that they are there to help," he said.

But Wagner says it's not a throw-your-hands-up and forget about it situation either. He says he would like to see connection in the community. While School Resource Officers are stationed at metro area schools to connect with students, Wagner believes there ought to be communication later on in life.

Bridget Fitzpatrick, with the Omaha Police Department, revealed one possible solution Thursday called Coffee with a Cop.



It affords officers the chance to, "just talk to them about what is going on. These are the officers that work your area. We want to know, what are your concerns in your area?"

Fitzpatrick says current meetings at police precincts are open to the public but have a limited reach. The goal for Coffee with a Cop is for law enforcement to meet the community on their own ground.

"We are going to go out to the public,” she said. “We are going to meet them in their homes, in their neighborhood."

Coffee with a Cop will debut on Tuesday, February 25th from 8 to 9 in the morning at Heartland Cafe in downtown Elkhorn. The second will be in North Omaha.

The program is new to Omaha but it’s already in use elsewhere. Visit the CoffeeWithACop Web site or stop by the Facebook page.


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