Attorney says MECA vote violated its contract with the city

Mayor Jean Stothert

Mayor Jean Stothert says she will propose a form of civilian oversight for the Omaha Police Department.

Stothert told The World-Herald her administration is working to suggest an ordinance to create some sort of citizen review board, a concept she supported during her mayoral campaign.

The mayor said her office has reviewed the proposal with the city's Law and Police Departments. Stothert said the next step would be to get the City Council's input before submitting a final draft that would eventually face a public hearing.

The Mayor's Office declined to share the proposed ordinance in its current form.

“My goal has always been to have something on the City Council agenda by the end of the summer,” Stothert said. “And that will happen.”

Sgt. John Wells, head of the Omaha police union, said he hadn't heard of any proposal. But he said he hoped Stothert's administration would “sit all the stakeholders down at the table and come up with something that satisfies everybody's needs.”

“Don't rush to implement something, which ultimately doesn't work or backfires,” Wells said. “Because that just tends to cause more problems.”

Stothert's announcement came as a group of concerned residents stood outside City Hall on Tuesday to demand department oversight.

D'Shawn Cunningham joined Robert Wagner — the man whose videotaped arrest outside the Creighton University Medical Center renewed calls for a police auditor — to say recent videotaped confrontations with police officers showed the need for independent oversight.

“Awareness isn't the problem,” Cunningham said of community concerns with the department. Rather, he said, a solution is needed.

“The time has come and passed,” Cunningham said. Stothert “is the only person that can effect any change on this.”

In February, then-City Council member Stothert said she didn't support an auditor position, partly because of its potential cost.

She said she would create citizen review boards to address complaints in what she described as rare cases when officers “don't use good judgment.”

“If you have true community policing, what it means is the community takes part in making the policy, ” Stothert said at the time.

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