Lincoln/Omaha Councils Talk Gang Violence, Development Projects

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LINCOLN, Neb.-- Lincoln has about 900 gang members, and the number continues to grow, according to Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong.

Thursday, Peschong met with Omaha's police chief and members of both city's councils to collaborate and bounce ideas off one another on how to combat the issue.

Much of the discussion focused on Omaha's well-known gang related issues, and what Lincoln can do to learn from them and prevent gang violence here.

"If you don't pay any attention to [gangs]," Peschong said, "and you just let them ride, all of a sudden, you've got a huge problem; and, you're never going to get your hands around it."

Peschong said he's thankful Lincoln's gang issues aren't as serious as Omaha's, but, they're still looking to add uniformed officers. They're even applying for a grant.

"I believe that recognizing that you've got some problems that need to be addressed," Peschong said, "putting the resources there to address that and try to deal with those early on is going to pay you dividends."

Omaha's Police Chief Todd Schmaderer spoke to Peschong and the councils about what Omaha has done to fight gang related crimes, including taking a community-action based approach and even installing secret security cameras.

Peschong said LPD routinely reaches out to the Omaha department to bounce ideas off each other, but, that this meeting was more for the council's benefit.

Peschong said the city council is a policy maker and has the means to help make any necessary changes, which is why it's important they hear this information.


The councils also heard from Lincoln planning officials about the future of the Persing Center.

According to Ed Zimmer, the city's historic preservation planner, the city accepted three proposals in 2012 to renovate the area. Those included an option for a public library or university student housing.

Zimmer said they rejected them because of cost and feasibility reasons.

The city is currently analyzing demolition costs as well as accepting proposals for what to do with the area. Zimmer says they also need to consider what to do with the mural on the side of the Center, and weigh that into the costs of whatever route they choose.