Omaha’s efforts to curb gang violence are catching the attention of other police departments, including officers in Kansas City, Mo.
Seven Kansas City gang unit officers met Thursday at Central Police Headquarters with their Omaha counterparts.
The daylong discussion centered on strategies for taking repeat violent offenders off the street. The talks were initiated by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Capt. Rich Gonzalez of the Omaha gang unit said his officers were pleased by the interest.
“We’re encouraged by the recognition of the fact that we’re doing some things right,” Gonzalez said. “I think this is the beginning of a good relationship with Kansas City. We are learning from them as well.”
Capt. Joe McHale and Maj. Michael Corwin of the Kansas City Police Department said they were impressed by the amount of human intelligence-gathering being done by the Omaha gang unit.
They also liked Omaha’s commitment to crime lab work in which every shell casing and firearm that comes into police possession is analyzed.
Omaha is combining intelligence-gathering and crime lab analysis to reduce the amount of police saturation needed in troubled areas, Gonzalez said. Officers study gangs and their social structures to understand who the violent offenders are and how they behave.
John Hamm, an ATF spokesman, said Thursday’s discussions probably will lead to more information-sharing among police departments throughout the region.
“We’ve had great success with what Omaha’s done,” Hamm said. “Now we’re getting some really good cops all in the same room and sharing that model.”
Billy Wright, a special agent in charge for the ATF in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, said recent operations code named “Wipe It Down’’ and “Purple Haze’’ are examples of Omaha’s successes. The operations resulted in arrests on suspicion of firearms trafficking, illegal possession of firearms and drug trafficking.
Dozens of gang members and associates are facing significant prison time after the joint investigation by Omaha police, the ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Wright said.