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Omaha police chief blames outside agitators, focused on improving community relations

Omaha police chief blames outside agitators, focused on improving community relations

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Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer speaks during his press conference Sunday with Mayor Jean Stothert. Schmaderer said guardsmen would increase the presence of law enforcement and take some strain off exhausted Omaha officers. Stothert said, “Since I became mayor in 2013, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any sadder, darker days than I’ve seen over the past two days.”

With a fourth night of protests upon Omaha, Police Chief Todd Schmaderer says he wants to keep moving forward in improving relations between Omaha police and the community.

In reference to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Schmaderer said: “We kneel with everybody on that.”

He urged people to not let the national incident “distract from what we’re doing. Let’s get back to the business of working out our problems as a Police Department and a community together.”

Schmaderer said agitators from outside the Omaha area have caused problems in protests downtown and at 72nd and Dodge Streets.

Schmaderer spoke at a Monday afternoon press conference with Mayor Jean Stothert and Gov. Pete Ricketts. That followed Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine’s announcement that he would not charge a white bar owner in the shooting death of a black protester.

In their joint appearance, Schmaderer, Stothert and Ricketts all called for a peaceful night of protests.

Omaha has made great strides in police-community relations, Schmaderer and Stothert said. Immediately after the press conference, Schmaderer said he would be meeting with community partners about the city’s problems.

“We know everyone is hurting,” he said, “and we want to get started working right now with our community.”

Stothert echoed that police and community relations have been positive in the city.

“It’s time to move forward,” she said.

The police chief said he has observed protests and has talked with members of the public and his officers on the front lines.

While police were prepared for anything that may happen during Monday’s protests, Schmaderer said he has confidence in the community.

“I have so much confidence in this community — so much confidence and trust in them. I would never underestimate them at all.”

Photos: Fourth day of protests in Omaha after James Scurlock’s shooter not charged

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Omaha’s state of emergency will last 72 hours, and the curfew will go from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights. Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert could extend it with Omaha City Council approval. The curfew doesn’t apply to people going to and from work, medical personnel, the press, the homeless and some others.

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