Omaha Police Department
|Omaha Police Department|
Patch of the Omaha Police Department
Badge of the Omaha Police Department
|Motto||To Serve and Protect|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Agency executive||Todd Schmaderer, Chief of police|
|Omaha Police Department|
The Omaha Police Department, commonly known as the OPD, is the principal law enforcement agency of the city of Omaha, Nebraska. It is nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The OPD has adopted a mission statement stating "The Omaha Police Department, in partnership with our community, provides impartial, ethical, and professional law enforcement service and protection. We strive to maintain the trust and confidence of our citizens while working to improve the quality of life." OPD's motto is "To Serve and Protect." The OPD is the largest law enforcement agency in the State of Nebraska.
The OPD has 821 sworn officers covering an area of 118.9 square miles (308 km2) and a population of 432,931 people (2008 census estimate) within city limits.
The OPD is headed by a chief of police, who is appointed by the mayor with approval by the Omaha City Council. The current chief of police is Todd Schmaderer. Below the chief in rank are four deputy chiefs, who have an area of responsibility within the department.
Rank structure and insignia
|Chief of Police|
The city of Omaha is divided into quadrants by the department, with a precinct in each quadrant; Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, and Southwest. The department assists the Omaha Airport Authority's Police Department with law enforcement at Eppley Airfield, Omaha's primary airport.
Specialized divisions and units
Like most urban police departments, OPD has specialized units to deal with the differing law enforcement issues of the city. Units include:
- Air Unit
- Criminal Intelligence
- Emergency Response Unit (SWAT Team)
- Fugitive Unit
- Gang Unit
- K-9 Unit
- Internal Affairs
- Organized Crime
- Special Victims Unit (Child Abuse/Neglect)
In 1868, the position of "Police Judge" was created and John H. Sahler was appointed to fill that role. Later that same year, the City Council directed members of the force to provide themselves with "dark blue, single breasted coats, shirts and pants of the same material. They were required to have caps with a brass plate in the front marked City Police." Between 1869 and 1882 the size of the department fluctuated until it grew steadily from 14 officers starting in 1882.
In 1891, an African American man named Joe Coe was lynched in downtown Omaha after being accused of raping a white child. Despite conflicting reports from the child, her parents and the community, a mob dragged Smith from the Omaha jail and hung him from a streetcar line nearby.
In 1909 the South Omaha Police Department requested assistance from the Omaha Police Department to protect the life of a prisoner accused of dating a "white" woman; the prisoner was Greek. When large mobs descended from Omaha into Greek Town, located just south of the Omaha border, OPD officers did nothing to intervene. As a result a large community was burnt to the ground.
On September 28, 1919, the Omaha Race Riot occurred, one of many race riots happening in many cities around the United States that year. The riot stemmed over allegations against 41 year old Will Brown, an African-American Omaha citizen, of raping 19-year-old Agnes Loebeck, a white woman, at gunpoint. Brown was arrested and brought to the Douglas County Courthouse to face charges, however a white mob began to gather with the intent of taking out vigilante justice on Brown. Omaha Mayor Edward Smith was lynched while trying to prevent an angry crowd from taking Brown, although he ultimately survived the ordeal after being rescued by Omaha Police detectives Al Anderson, Charles Van Deusen, Lloyd Toland and Russell Norgard. Brown was surrendered to the mob under mysterious circumstances and was dragged out into the street and brutally lynched. His body riddled with bullets from the rioters while hanging in front of the Douglas County Courthouse in downtown Omaha and burned to near ashes. The Courthouse itself was gutted by fire as a result of the rioters' prior attempts to flush out Brown and the police officers attempting to protect him.
After lynching Brown, the mob moved to a nearby police station to lynch black prisoners being held there. Fortunately for the prisoners, they were released by a police captain when word of Brown's lynching spread. Unable to control the situation, Omaha Police requested assistance from the United States Army, and by September 29, 1,700 soldiers were deployed from nearby Fort Omaha, Camp Funston (part of present day Fort Riley, Kansas) and Camp Dodge, Iowa. Although soldiers reported exchanging fire with rooftop snipers at the beginning of the deployment, no further loss of life occurred. Order was restored on September 29.
In 1923, a separate motor force unit was created and "pill boxes" were installed throughout the city. Some pill boxes are in service as of 2008. That same year, the United States' first safety patrol was instituted by the department to address concerns over protecting Omaha children walking to and from school.
In 1941, the department chose a distinctive badge design. The design is still in use today.
Officer Larry Minard was killed on August 17, 1970 by a bomb placed by members of the Black Panther Party. The Omaha Police Department was heavily involved in the FBI's COINTELPRO operation, and using evidence from COINTELPRO, and from the confession of Duane Peak, Panthers David Rice (now known as Mondo we Langa) and Ed Poindexter were convicted for Minard's death and are currently serving life sentences. The guilt of the two has been questioned, and Amnesty International has released reports criticizing the prosecutions actions in the Rice/Poindexter Case.
Officer Jason Pratt died on September 19, 2003, a week after being confined in intensive care with a gunshot wound to the head. Pratt was shot in the line of duty during a foot pursuit. He was a member of the Omaha Police Department's S.W.A.T. team. The 12-mile processional to Calvary Cemetery was lined with residents. Some waved flags, some saluted and some just cried as the hearse passed.
Officer Kerrie Orozco, a 7 year veteran of the Omaha Police department, and a member of Gang Unit, was shot and killed on May 20, 2015 while attempting to serve an arrest warrant on Marcus D. Wheeler. Officer Orozco was part of the Metro Area Fugitive Task Force, and were in the process of serving an arrest warrant when the suspect opened fire, striking the officer. Officer Orozco was rushed to CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center, where she succumbed to her injuries. Marcus D. Wheeler was also rushed to CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center, where he too succumbed to his injuries. This is the first time an officer has died in the line of duty since September 19, 2003, when Officer Jason Pratt was shot and killed.
Breakdown of the makeup of the rank and file of OPD
- Male: 80%
- Female: 20%
- White: 82%
- African-American/Black: 11%
- Hispanic: 5%
- Asian: 1%
- Native American:1%
A grand jury was called in accordance to Nebraska law which requires a grand jury investigate any death that occurs while a subject is in police custody. The grand jury indicted Sears on charges of manslaughter, however the indictment was thrown out due to juror misconduct. A second grand jury cleared Sears of all charges, however criticized Omaha Police in their handling of the incident, noting that (1)Ammons' cell phone was found in Sears' cruiser the day after the shooting; (2) drug and alcohol testing was not performed on the officers at the scene, including Sears, in accordance with policy; (3) Sears' cruiser was not impounded. A lawsuit against the City of Omaha and Sears was brought by the Ammons family but was later dropped. Sears left the department on a disability pension, claiming post traumatic stress disorder.
On 21 March 2013, 32 Omaha Police Department officers encountered uncooperative and non-compliant parties in a high crime area and eventually entered a home without a warrant or emergency circumstances. They illegally seized two cameras used by witnesses to film their actions and destroyed their data. The officers were unaware a third citizen was filming them. The video was posted on YouTube, however, the third party has failed to release the entire video.
An investigation revealed officers had conspired to lie in official statement to protect themselves.
- List of law enforcement agencies in Nebraska
- List of U.S. state and local law enforcement agencies
- Crime in Omaha
- Timeline of racial tension in Omaha, Nebraska
- Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics, 2000: Data for Individual State and Local Agencies with 100 or More Officers
- 6th Omaha police officer loses job over 33rd, Seward Street arrests By Erin Golden, 10 January 2014, World-Herald
- Bail set at $5K for fired Omaha officer accused of evidence tampering By Todd Cooper, 8 May 2013, World Herald
- OPD press release, PDF, http://content.omaha.com/media/maps/ps/2013/april/Excessive%20Force%20Allegation%20Response.pdf