Police Chief Threatens Omaha Residents Over Budget
In a public conversation about the budget on August 4, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer threatened to remove community protection if the department didn’t receive an increase in funding.
“If budget were to be cut, what would be lost, he says, are some intervention and prevention efforts, such as gang prevention.”
— Reece Ristau, Omaha World- Herald reporter
If this sounds like an extortion racket— “pay me or you might not get my protection”— that’s because the act of obtaining something of value by using threats, force, or abuse of authority is the definition of extortion.
Why did Schmaderer choose gang prevention instead of the mounted patrol program? Why did Schmaderer not propose a wage freeze or cut overtime because of City revenue shortfalls? Why not propose a spending reduction on ANY OTHER COST?
Schmanderer knows that a threat to public safety is what keeps Omaha Police in power, especially when that threat is racialized. This behavior is unbecoming of a community leader.
Roughly a quarter of Omaha Police officers used force against residents in 2019. The Chief said he’s fine with that. Omaha Police officers used pepper balls more this year than in the past seven years combined. The Chief said he’s fine with that. During the protests against police brutality, the department has denied their impact on residents of our community. Police violence is violence. The Chief wants to ignore all that to get 36.7% of the City’s general fund.
Omaha deserves alternatives to the “protection” offered by armed police, especially concerning mental health issues, petty crime, and misdemeanor issues that could be addressed by non-armed social workers. We can simultaneously cut the police budget and allocate funds to new systems that make our community safer. We can choose smarter alternatives that reserve police officers for serious crimes instead of every incident that requires attention. But will we?
Omaha’s City Council has the power and an opportunity to challenge the police budget. A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for 6
p.m. Tuesday, August 11, in the Legislative Chambers of the City-County Building, 1819 Farnam St.
Will you ask them to take action?
Omaha City Council offices 402–444–5520