Omaha mayor, police chief discuss OPD policy changes announced Thursday
One month after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert on Thursday announced several changes to OPD policies.
"Meaningful change requires action," Stothert said. "We are listening, learning, and taking appropriate actions."
Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer made several changes to the department's Use of Force policy:
- Officer duty to intervene and report
- Knee-to-neck pin forbidden
- Prone position warning
- OPD has an existing ban on chokeholds (The change involves Carotid Restraint Control Hold CRCH only if officer is attacked or deadly force.)
Schmaderer said these changes are based on the current discussion of police reforms following nationwide protests.
"We had a number of protests here in Omaha and we wanted to make sure we heard what was said, we listened, we heard what was said and we implemented what we felt was appropriate to further our mission in how we interact with the citizens of Omaha," Schmaderer said in a sit-down interview with 6 News.
OPD is also requiring new training for all officers beginning in July.
"We want to be part of listening and reform," Schmaderer said.
Training will include Use of Force policy changes, Taser re-certification, suicide-by-cop prevention training, stop stick deployment,examination of the impact of biased policing on community members and law enforcement, and a review of the George Floyd case.
"It really highlights the impact on how such a horribly handled situation can impact an entire country," said Schmaderer. "And our officers need to know that their actions affect that moment in time but also an entire city and potentially an entire country."
According to a release, during the last 10 years, officer-involved shootings have decreased from 11 in 2010 to zero in the first 6 months of 2020. Schmaderer attributes this to five changed actions already adopted by the department:
- Full deployment of body cameras
- Less-lethal Taser deployments
- A mental health co-responder program, training, and early warning tracking to identify problem officers
"It shows that we have made that a priority even before any of this has occurred, even before the protests. IT shows that we've taken it very seriously and to have that level of reduction is something we're very proud of it. And the 5 tenants there are a major reason we feel have enhanced our professionalism," said Schmaderer.
Stothert also will revise the executive order that created the Citizen Complaint Review Board.
"There have been comments to me that they didn't feel like it was transparent enough because people didn't know what they were doing and what the complaints were," said Mayor Stothert.
The CCRB will provide an annual public report, including the number of cases reviewed and recommendations by the board. Citizens will also be able to file complaints directly to the CCRB instead of through internal affairs, the release states.
The mayor also will consult with community groups and volunteers who serve on a variety of boards, including the Millenial Advisory Board, LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, Native American Advisory Board, and the Mayor's Youth Advisory Board.