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War On Crime: City's Call to Action Against Crime

War On Crime: City's Call to Action Against Crime

By Liz Dorland. CREATED Dec 13, 2011

Omaha, NE -- Community leaders in Omaha are coming together to fight the continuing war on crime.  They will try to fight it after a model plan that is working in one troubled neighborhood in north Omaha.  City leaders are hopeful it's success will cause a ripple effect around the city. 

A neighborhood in the 68111 zipcode once known for police lights and crime tape, is now a model of success when it comes to curbing violent crime.   Gail Ross watched the crime in her neighborhood on tv almost daily.   "There wasn't a lot of fear but great concern for the safety of the residents and safety of the children," explained Ross.

The movement started by identifying a "Champion" or someone who would take action to rally their community to end the violence.  Gail Ross is that leader.  Ross organized meetings with "Stakeholders".  Members with Omaha Public Schools, the Omaha Police Department, Omaha City Council, faith-based leaders, business owners came together to solve the problems that plagued their neighborhood. 

30 days before leaders took to the streets and began the initiative 2 murders, 5 shootings and 11 assaults took place.   Once the movement launched, leaders held a prayer walk.  Ross said,  "We also engaged the neighbors we let them know why we were there. We let them know that we love them, that we're concerned and that we're a part of this community as well."

They didn't stop there.  Next Ross organized a "Love Our Neighborhood Clean-up". The Champion explianed, "The community came out and engaged with us. We cleaned up the neighborhood. We prayed over each block in the neighborhood. We engaged young people in the neighborhood, even got some young men as well as young adults engaged as well."

No violent crime was reported 30 days after leaders started the movement.

The progress went further, Ross said the overall mood in her neighborhood changed after the prayer walk and clean-up.   

Empowerment Network President Willie Barney explained once faith based leaders and the community tackle issues like jobs, housing and education the change is huge.   "You can see dramatic reductions in violence or reductions in any negative activity when you have a redevelopment of that neighborhood where there's new housing," said Barney.

Even Omaha Police call this work "tremendous".  Captain Kerry Neumann said Tuesday a collaborative effort by the community is all it takes. "When we go to that area where most of the shootings are happening, here's where homicides are happening we need to collaboratively target this neighborhood. That's when we see the problem dissipate.  It's measurable it's shown and we've seen good success," said the Northeast Precinct Captain.

It's success that Omaha leaders are hoping will catch on. "If the faith based community comes together and the neighbors and the neighborhood associations come together begin to work together that it's going to change north Omaha all together. For the good," said Ross.

Several organizations such as: Turning Point, The Empowerment Network, Impact One, Hope Center for Kids, Urban League of Nebraska and North Omaha Neighborhood Alliance have resources to help people find jobs, get transportation to places for school or work and much more.
They are urging people to get involved to help stop the violence.

Reported By: Liz Dorland, ldorland@action3news.com