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1. National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals,
Police (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973), p. 18.
2. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Who Is Guarding the Guardians? (Octobe
1981), p. 37.
3. Paul Takagi, "A Garrison State in a 'Democratic Society,' "! Crime and Social Justice, (Summer 1974), p. 30, note 1. The issue of police shootings is surveyed in John S. Goldkamp, "Minorities as Victims of Police Shootings:
Interpretations of Racial Disproportionatlity and Police Use of Deadly Force,"
The Justice System Journal, Vol. II, Issue 2 (Winter 1976), pp. 169-83. 4. Model Penal Code, sec. 1307(2)(b)(i)(IV)(Proposed Official Draft, 1962).
5. Neb. Rev. Stat. sec. 28-834, 1972.
6. Omaha World-Herald, Jan. 29, 1974.
7. Omaha World-Herald, June 14, 1974.
8. Omaha World-Herald, June 12, 1974.
9. Omaha World-Herald, June 10, 1974.
10. Landrum v. Moats, No. 77-1656, (8th Cir. May 30, 1978).
11. Landrum v. Moats, No. 75-0-440, (D. Neb. Feb. 8,
12. Omaha World-Herald, June 1, 1976.
13. Omaha World-Herald, June 8, 1976.
14. Omaha World-Herald, Jan. 25, 1977 and Sept. 24, 1979.
15. Data supplied by Omaha Police Division, on file at CSRO. 16. Omaha World-Herald, Sept. 21, 1979; Sept. 24, 1979.
17. Data provided by the Omaha Police Division, on file at CSRO.
18. Omaha World-Herald, Oct. 18, 1981.
19. Omaha World-Herald, Feb. 24, 1982.
20. Omaha Police Manual, Vol. I, Pers. 2-3, p. 2, March 1981.
21. Omaha Police Manual, Vol. I, Pers. 2-2, p. 2 (Rev.) Sept. 1975.
22. Neb. Rev. Stat. sec. 28-839, 1972.
23. Jack Swanson, interview in Omaha, Dec. 9, 1981.
24. George Ernce, interview in Omaha, Dec. 10, 1981.
25. A.B. Hogan, interview in Omaha, May 27, 1981.
26. Clyde Christian, telephone interview, Nov. 12, 1981.
27. Wilda Stephenson, telephone interview, Nov. 17, 1981.
28. Wayne Tyndall, telephone interview, Nov. 5, 1981.
29. Omaha World-Herald, Aug. 22, 1977; Oct. 26, 1977.
30. Omaha World-Herald, Oct. 23, 1980; Oct. 25, 1980; Oct. 27, 1980.
31. Omaha World-Herald, July 15, 1981.
32. Tappan v. Coufal, No. 81-0-0367 (D. Neb. July 14, 1981).
33. Model Rules for Law Enforcement Officers, A Manual on Police Discretion (IACP, 1974), pp. 138-39.
34. Ibid., pp. 140-42.
35. Ibid., p. 143.
The information collected by the Advisory Committee and others indicates a
profound disparity in perception of police activity.
Past Community Attitudes
Minority complaints about police behavior and hostility to the police have
a long history. The earliest reports of it in the files of the Omaha Public
Library date back to 1965.
In October 1965 Homer C. Floyd, executive director of the city human
relations board, reported that "tremendous hostility" against the police was developing among the black residents of northside Omaha. 1 A list of
grievances was developed by the Northside Police-Community Relations Council
whose members included Ernest Chambers, William Mitchell, Mrs. Robert Gibson,
Rev. Wilkinson Harper and George Crenshaw. These focused on lack of police
courtesy toward blacks--referring to them as "nigger", "boy", "gal"; arrests
without apparent justification; use of force as a result of verbal abuse or to
obtain information or to punish a suspected offender; random searches without
apparent cause; harassment by the vice squad; harassment and intimidation of
children on the streets; placement of radar in places that interfere with
private businesses; failure to process complaints; failure to respond to calls
for assistance from the black community; and, failure to respond to citizen requests for information about arrests. The police division either stated
these accusations were not justified or offered a legal explanation for the practice. 3
In July 1966, the views of the black community again became of interest to
the media in the aftermath of a weekend of civil umrest. Many concerns were
cited as causing the riots. Demands presented to the city by blacks after the riot included "a change in police attitudes.'4
In March 1968 black leaders again complained that an officer who fatally
shot a black youth inside a looted pawnshop was not suspended during the investigation and that police used their clubs and mace indiscriminantly against black demonstrators at a George Wallace rally.5 Later in that month
a black youth was charged with criminal libel when he distributed a handbill accusing two officers of being racists and using excessive force. 6 A report
by the city's human relations board, published in June 1968, stated that "it is a simple fact that most Negro citizens do not believe that we have equal law enforcement.....7
Also in 1969 a black organization called "The Matched Sets" conducted an
extensive survey of black opinion in which it interviewed 641 black residents
of the northside and 51 white residents of the area. The results were
reported separately for older people (361 persons) and younger people, under the age of 19 (331 persons). Three-quarters of the younger people thought the police were not courteous. Over 60 percent had heard of incidents of police
brutality and more than three-quarters believed the police used excessive and
un justified force. A little less than half thought the 1968 riots were justified. A little more than half did not think police-community relations
had improved in the past few years.
Over 60 percent of the older people
interviewed thought the police were not courteous.
Over 80 percent had heard
of incidents of police brutality and 60 percent believed the police used
excessive and sometimes un justified force. About 70 percent of those
interviewed thought the 1968 riots were justified. About half thought that police-community relations had not improved in the past few years. 8 Then
Police Chief Richard Andersen asserted that out of 140,000 cases involving
police contact with citizens in a one year period, only 10 resulted in
9 complaints of police mistreatment.
In early 1970 two incidents of alleged police abuse were reported to the city's human relations board. 10
In August 1970 the bombing death of a white
police officer led Roger Sayers, then director of the city human relations
department, to urge black citizens to keep cool, despite the widely held view
in the community that the police had increased their arrests in the area with the intention of clearing the streets.
The incident also reinforced anti-black feeling, according to then police-community relations coordinator
Al Pattavina. Patrolman Marvin McClarty, a black officer and member of the
community relations unit, stated at the time that the police reflect the general attitude of the community towards blacks. 12
In 1970 the League of Women Voters of Omaha surveyed businessmen,
religious leaders, city hall personnel, minority group members, high school
students, young adults, police officers and league members. (There is no
indication of how many were surveyed.) At that time two out of every three persons interviewed stated that police-community relations were "only fair or poor or bad." All minority respondents and all but one of the high school
students, religious leaders and young adults believed relations were bad.
However, all but one of the respondents from the police division, all but one
of the respondents from city hall and a majority of the businessmen respondents believed relations were good. 13
In the aftermath of a 1974 shootout between police and a black gunman,
resulting in the death of an officer and the gunman, black ministers urged
that "policemen are going to have to stop thinking of themselves as little tin
gods and the community will have to stop looking upon policemen as being their
arch enemy." One minister suggested that race relations in Omaha had become worse than those in the south. 14
In its 1975 report to the mayor, the Mayor's Task Force on
Police-Community Relations, Community Concerns Subcommittee, stated:
There is a mutual lack of respect between the Omaha Police Division and significant numbers of the young, minority, poor, and in some cases elderly Omahans. This lack of respect makes positive police-community relations a sham.