Rise In Gang Activity

The Omaha Police Department says the city is facing a gang problem. Crime statistics show the number of suspected gang members is up 16 percent in the last year.

Police say the number of suspected gang members has jumped from about 2,600 at the beginning of last summer to more than 3,000 at the same time this year.

Drug busts and burglaries related to gangs have both seen an increase over that same period.

Alberto Gonzalez of the Boys and Girls Club says he is not surprised.

"We're all overwhelmed," Gonzalez said. "And the power of the media, the power of the music, the power of these games continue to entice our children."

Neither is Pete Simi, a criminal justice professor at UNO.

"There seems to have been a decline in gang violence and only more recently have we seen the increase," Simi said. "There's no magic bullet in terms of intervention and prevention of gangs."

There may not be a magic solution, but there is advice. Gonzalez recalls a conversation he had with a father concerned about his son.

"I said, 'when was the last time you've been in your son's room?' And he couldn't answer that question, so the best advice I can give parents is don't be scared of your kids," said Gonzalez.

While Omaha Police released the gang statistics, the department does not comment on gang violence because it does not want to glamorize gangs or give them publicity.

However, the department did tell Channel 6 that one reason numbers are up is that enforcement and documentation have been more aggressive.

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