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Homicides are up from last year. Rapes have increased. Burglaries and vehicle thefts are also on the rise, according to Omaha Police Department statistics.
Omaha Police Chief Alex Hayes, Mayor Jim Suttle and community leaders said efforts to combat violence are working — though slowly — and used a press conference Tuesday at the Omaha Police Department to highlight the need for more action.
Their message: More people need to get involved in their neighborhoods and work with police to suppress crime.
"We still have a lot of work to do, but we're making progress," Hayes said.
He did not go into specifics on the recent spate of shooting deaths, but Capt. Kerry Neumann of the northeast precinct said they were not random.
"People aren't randomly getting killed," he said. "More often than not there's a connection."
The same is true of most homicides, he said.
Neumann said he analyzes crime statistics and deploys additional resources to areas needing them.
"We send out patrols, officers that will be visible, so when someone drives through contemplating a gun crime, they'll see us and re-evaluate," he said.
Both Neumann and Willie Barney, president of the Empowerment Network, stressed the importance of having residents working in partnership with the Police Department.
Police and community organizations have seen a decrease in crime in neighborhoods where residents are cooperative. "We see results when we all work together," Barney said.
Statistics also show that areas with high unemployment are more prone to more crime and gang activities, he said.
"In Omaha, when young people are working, the crime goes down," said Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray, whose district includes north Omaha.
Mayor Jim Suttle vowed to work with the business community to make jobs available in the city's underemployed areas.
Suttle called the number of shootings "unacceptable" and urged people to turn in firearms during the Police Department's no-questions-asked gun amnesty event on Saturday.
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