Omaha’s troubled, sometimes criminal, youth are front and center this week in an ongoing political battle.

Douglas County officials are looking for answers to a $27 million problem.

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Commissioner Jim Cavanaugh (D): “For the record the last property tax increase in Douglas County was for an unmandated service, to build a kids jail and I voted against that.”

Commissioner PJ Morgan (R): “I get very tired of hearing “the kids jail” because I think its very disrespectful.”

Call it a warmup to Tuesday’s main event, when the Douglas County Board has scheduled a vote on the controversial brand new and apparently ready to go, but still unopened, downtown Youth and Family Support Center, A-K-A: the kids jail.

The vote appears likely to keep the current Douglas County Youth Center open, as it holds at times, give-or-take, nearly 70 juveniles, significantly more than the 54 juvenile capacity of the new operation.

All this at a time when Omaha police admittedly struggle with non-adult crime.

Most recently at Omaha’s new and improved Gene Leahy downtown mall which has been the scene of recent fights, several juveniles arrested, police using pepper spray to break things up.

The fix? Well, the police admit there are no easy answers.

Police Chief Todd Schmaderer (KFAB Radio): “Been a persistent problem for us. It's quite frankly a public safety issue right now for us that we've got to get a handle on. I used to see it maybe in 2019 in the Old Market area. Sometimes we would see it on the weekends up at Westroads. So, what we have is just a lot of juveniles gathering unsupervised and fights and guardians and weapons are part of this and it's causing a major safety issue for the Gene Leahy mall area.”

As for Tuesday’s vote part of the plan would keep the new $27 million youth facility closed until the number of kids inside is no more than 54 for get this: “A minimum of six consecutive months.” A-K-A: February.