Omaha Police sergeant considers run for sheriff

An Omaha Police gang unit sergeant is considering running for Douglas County sheriff.
Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 8:29 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - An Omaha Police gang unit sergeant is considering running for Douglas County sheriff.

“I’m being encouraged by many people based on my expertise in gang issues to consider a run for sheriff,” said Sgt. Aaron Hanson. “I am considering that strongly,”

As Hanson approaches his 25th year in law enforcement, there’s a central issue he sees time and again on the streets.

“Over my years as a gang unit supervisor, I realized there is nobody whose full-time responsibility it was to track down these young juvenile offenders who abscond and bring them back into the juvenile court system, back into their homes for rehabilitation,” Hanson said.

The dangers of high-risk juveniles who aren’t following the rules of their probation orders came front and center this summer. Two 16-year-olds — who were already part of the juvenile court system — had been accused of a double murder. Law enforcement and probation didn’t know where they were. In fact — they had been on the run and off the radar for months before the shooting.

Terrance Moore’s whereabouts were unknown since February — when he skipped his flight to an Arizona school that deals with high-risk youngsters. Lerajai Key had been gone since December — when he disappeared over court orders to answer to defacing a firearm.

Police union president Tony Conner tells 6 News he hears from rank-and-file officers all the time about the 40-50 high-risk juveniles who are on the lam every month.

“There are a lot of times when we are left on an island — and trying to address issues with juveniles and absconders,” Sgt Conner said.

If Hanson were Douglas County sheriff, he said he’d create a new unit in the Douglas County Warrants Department with one purpose: “We need someone whose dedicated job it is — to find the juvenile absconded offenders — before they hurt themselves or someone else.”

Hanson, who is the legislative liaison for the police union, said he believes the issue of high-risk juvenile offenders on the run is important enough for innovative ideas. “We need a solution that’s tailor-made for this challenge. It’s not a wish — it’s a must,” he said.

6 News contacted the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for comment. Chief Deputy Wayne Hudson said the team already prioritizes warrants, and that if they feel someone is dangerous, they move them up the priority list. A specific unit for high-risk juveniles isn’t necessary, Hudson said.

Incidentally, Hudson said he “more than likely” also will run for the position of Douglas County sheriff. The primary is May 10, 2022.

Last December, Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning retired after 26 years. He had served on the Omaha Police force 22 years prior to that. Dunning’s Chief Deputy Tom Wheeler took over sheriff duties and has said he wasn’t planning to run for sheriff.

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