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To serve as a link between "grass roots community" and the police administration.29

Data were received from the police division on community service contacts

for the months January 1980 through May 1981. The Advisory Committee reviewed

the data for the months of August and April of 1980 and 1981 to obtain a

picture of what might be typical contacts during the school and summer


In August 1980 there were 62 community service contacts which brought

the police division into contact with 1,376 individuals. Forty-two of the

contacts that month were listed as "display of the crime prevention mobile

units." Other contacts were lectures on home security, self-protection for women and juvenile procedures. Three contacts were with schools. 30 In

August 1981, 20 community service contacts were made which reached 379

individuals. Again the mobile unit was very popular accounting for 15 of the


One school was visited for a meeting on "problems with students and


Sixty-four contacts were made in April 1980, nine of those were

display of the crime prevention mobile unit. Members of the police division

met 3,367 citizens that month during the various contacts. Forty-three

contacts were with schools. During that month lectures were given to
non-school groups on crime in Omaha, building safety and home security.32

Records for April 1981 show 137 contacts with only 11 for the crime prevention

mobile unit.

One hundred and two school contacts were listed and 11,067

individuals were reached. Non-school contacts involved lectures on

police-community relations, self-protection for women and crime against the


Mr. Simon, president of the city council, said that he believes the safety education unit which works with school children is doing a great job. But other areas could probably use improvement in his estimation. Mr. Simon said that he thought manpower had been a problem and that he believed the community

services bureau was probably the first one cut when staff was needed

elsewhere. 34

City Councilmember Fred Conley stated he was not sure that the outreach

office was useful.

The improvement of police-community relations should be

the responsibility of all police officers.

In his opinion, having the

separate office gives the impression that police-community relations is the

job of only a few. When reminded of how strongly the black community had

urged the location of the office on the northside, Mr. Conley remarked that

the establishment of the office has had great support because "it is the only

thing the police division was willing to give the community." He believes

that once the community sees the changes in police-community relations it

would not mind losing the office which he called 'window dressing" and a


Mayor Mike Boyle expressed similar thoughts, saying he believes it is

important that the black community not be targeted. To do so makes it appear

that the remainder of the city does not have any problems. He also said he is not sure that having a police-community relations office separate from the

remainder of the division is good. He said it could give officers not in the

unit the idea that police-community relations was not part of their job. The

mayor said all officers need to be involved in police-community

relations. 36

City Council President Bernie Simon emphasized that good

police-community relations are needed in the entire city and contended that

police-community relations does not mean just police relations with the minority community. 37

Some people interviewed were critical of the current community relations


Wilkinson Harper, pastor of the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist

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Church, commented "we don't have a police-community relations program per se in Omaha--what Omaha has is a public relations project.


Clyde Christian, an attorney, called the program a "joke."39 George Garnett, executive

director of North Omaha Community Development, agreed with Rev. Harper, saying that there is a difference between creating liaison and doing a public

relations "selling job." He believes a permanent office which would disseminate information and mediate minor complaints would be useful.40

Marvin McClarty, who is assigned to the community services bureau,

described the purpose of the community relations neighborhood office as becoming totally involved with the community and providing liaison and

information. 41

Ruth Jackson, director of the city's human relations office,

commented that she thought more publicity should be given to the activities of

the community relations section. In her opinion too many citizens are unaware of the office or confused about its purpose.42 Wilkinson Harper said he was familiar only with the section's work in schools and the use of a van which is used to go to neighborhoods and give talks on home security.43 Robert Broom's knowledge of the section's activities was limited to the "baseball card" program of the 1980 summer.44 Under this program, established in late

June 1980, "baseball cards," redeemable for tickets to Omaha Royals games,

were passed out to young people by the police. The program was criticized by

black ministers at the time, although the police division considered it a success.


A few citizens mentioned past programs of the community relations section

which they thought were useful and should be reestablished.

The most

frequently mentioned were the police athletic programs and summer camps.

46 This was also a recommendation of the mayor's task force on police-community relations in 1975.47

The effect on police-community relations of current police practices and

suggestions for changes were discussed by many of those interviewed in

connection with this study.

Some of the comments focused on the need for improved communication

between the police and citizens. For example, Acting Chief Swanson believes

that officers fail to take into account the impact of their "authority" on

their relations with the public, that they have to be more careful about what

48 they say and how they say it as officers than do other people. Fred

Conley, the city's first black member of the city council, stated that there

needs to be sensitivity training for both the police and the public.


need to be aware of the police officer's job and what it involves.


Mayor Mike Boyle sees communication between officials and community

leaders as essential. He said he had been meeting with the Ministerial

Alliance, an organization of about 40 black churches, regarding the

establishment of a city-wide police-community relations program.

He said

there are no regularly scheduled meetings with the Alliance but that he is

contacted when they have a particular issue of concern. Mayor Boyle mentioned

. that in the week just prior to the staff interview he had met with the

Ministerial Alliance regarding the recruit class that had just completed

training. Mayor Boyle said he had also met with the Midwest Guardians in the

week prior to the staff interview to discuss the training program for


The mayor expressed concern that some of the initiatives in the

police-community relations area were not being communicated to the public. He

said that he hoped the meetings with the Ministerial Alliance would help "get

the word out about the changes." He also commented that he thought too much emphasis in the media was placed on negative aspects of police-community

relations. 50

The city attorney remarked in response to a question on improving

police-community relations, that in his opinion promotion of good

police-community relations takes assistance from the media.

He suggested that

a strong media office in the police division might help and could become a

resource for the media for information on the police. Then, he said, maybe the "good things" about the police division would get some coverage. 51

Mayor Boyle said he had talked with Ms. Ruth Jackson about public education on the rights of citizens, especially the right to make a complaint against the police. 52

Neighborhood offices or community and business persons meetings attended by officers assigned to the area were suggested as ways to improve police-community communication. 53

A similar program was tried earlier. A "home visitation" program had been

created in 1970 to "bring about a more friendly and closer relationship between the police and the community."54 The purpose of the program was "to

allow residents of Omaha --whatever their age--to meet and talk with policemen,

especially the patrolmen in their areas, in a casual and friendly


The home visitation program was described as a "bomb" in 1972

by then Police Chief Andersen, apparently because there were so few requests for the visits. 56

Footpatrol officers walking all or part of their beat also was frequently

mentioned as a means for the police and community to get to know each

other. 57

The 1975 mayor's task force on police-community relations had recommended the use of footpatrols in its report.


Acting Chief Jack

Swanson said footpatrols are not feasible because there are not enough

officers to patrol the 92 square miles under the division's jurisdiction. He

said beat officers were once a very effective tool but now there is too much

area to cover and response time would be too slow.

Instead of footpatrols,

the acting chief said the division already had a "10-10" program in effect

which called for officers to leave their cruisers and walk through the

neighborhoods. They are to remain in radio contact and never be more than a

block from their cruiser. According to the acting chief, this program has

been in effect for four or five years but he was not sure how many officers

actually participated. Acting Chief Jack Swanson said he was also considering

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