By: Addison Parr, Reporter
OMAHA, Neb. – The Omaha area is seeing it’s lowest homicide rate in decades thanks to a nationally recognized violence prevention and intervention model.
In July of 2007, the city of Omaha saw its peak of gun violence with 31 shootings over 31 days. After that tragic month, community leaders and Omaha officials stepped up and began working to establish a new approach to the issue.
Organizations like Omaha 360 and the Nebraska Collaborative for Violence Intervention and Prevention were started with the goal of bringing together the community to focus on collaboration, prevention, and intervention.
Dr. Gaylene Armstrong, Co-Director for the Nebraska Collaboration on Violence Intervention and Prevention, says that gun violence is much more than a two part issue.
“It’s really important that we don’t look and don’t react through with a single lens, like a criminal justice lens,” said Armstrong. “We need to involve our community partners. We need to involve the Healthcare system.”
In the last 15 years, Omaha shootings have decreased by 74%, and the Omaha Police Department reports Officer involved shootings have decreased by 90% over the last 10 years.
Captain Jeremy Christensen, with the Omaha Police Department, says that he credits these numbers to relationships being built in the Omaha community.
“The fact that are number are so low, knock on wood, is really a testament to just the overall community strategy we have. And it’s not just the police department, it’s the community leaders as well,” said Christensen. “We are very lucky in Omaha to have the community support that we do.”
The Omaha strategy has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice as a best practice approach for fighting violent crime.
Omaha’s prevention strategies have caught the attention of cities and police departments across the country. In august of this year, Kansas City non-profit leaders reached out to Omaha officials with the goal of launching a similar model called K-C 360 at the beginning of next year.
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