Omaha City Council holds budget hearing, public comment centers on police funding

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 6:21 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Omaha City Council is holding a hearing on the 2021 budget.

Impassioned public comment was the main theme at Tuesday night’s city budget meeting.

Those who spoke at the hearing did touch on multiple different topics -- the majority of people spoke their support or opposition of the one percent raise to the Omaha Police Department.

Those in favor of fully funding police and adding the raise also spoke in support of OPD.

Sgt. Anthony O’Connor, president of the Omaha Police Officers Association, said, “I credit the mayor for her leadership. She deserves a lot of credit for creating expectations and managing the department, but it is our sworn officers who do the work every day, and taking resources away from these men and women at this time will be a mistake.”

“The Omaha Police Department, as the other speakers have said, is one of the best police departments in the nation. A lot of the reforms that people are calling for in other cities have already been done here,” said Peter Owen, president of the Omaha Young Republicans.

Those opposed said the one percent raise should be spent elsewhere.

“The budget also reflects a city that cares more about surveilling and harassing its citizens than it does in investing in jobs, access to jobs and other community betterment,” said Angela Eikenberry, an Omaha resident.

“This is not about creating or solidifying polarities or Republicans or Democrats or even about economic growth. It’s about economic development and human capital that comes from investing in our communities socially and economically,” said Brenton Gomez, an Omaha resident.

The call to redirect police funding was met with backlash and a counter call to continue providing police with whatever it takes to improve community safety.

“I can’t imagine calling the police and having a policeman and a psychologist or shrink come with them. I want the police to be well-armed and trained,” said Nina Head, an Omaha resident.

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