Annexation plan triggers complaint of 'not enough police'
A usually cut and dried annexation plan in Omaha is running into a debate over public safety.
At least one member of the city council is ready to vote against Mayor Jean Stothert's latest proposal, arguing the city doesn't have enough police officers to handle even one more resident, let alone the 180 new folks that would be added to Omaha’s western edge.
Stothert tells NCN’s Joe Jordan the city is safe, but Councilman Vinny Palermo, who heads up the council's public safety committee, says some police calls are being held because "no police are available.”
Councilman Palermo: “There are residents we’re going to gather from this and those are possible police calls. And those are police officers, we’ve all sat here and said were going to do whatever it took to make sure public safety is number one. So, I would disagree. I think public safety is being compromised by an annexation package that’s brought before us, when we cannot take care of what we have now.”
Mayor Stothert: Speaking for Chief Schmaderer and myself I would say we don't agree with that at all. Omaha is a safe city. Sure, we were down in our number of actual officers that we had compared to what was budgeted. For a while we had a lower number of applicants for recruit classes, but Chief Schmaderer feels very strongly that we will return to pre- pandemic levels soon. This was a trend throughout the country.
NCN’s Joe Jordan: He says because he sits on the public safety committee, Councilman Palermo, that he gets information that calls are being held. You’re saying calls aren't being held?
Mayor Stothert: I think he's listening to the scanner and that doesn't mean that we are short police officers, always. Sometimes they are writing a report. It just depends on what's going on, but it depends on what type of call it is and if it's something that elevates itself those police officers will be there.
The city council is scheduled to vote on the annexation package Tuesday.
During a recent public hearing no one spoke against the plan.