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Exclusive: Omaha Violence Finds Ashford Ready for National Guard

By   /   April 14, 2010  /   News  /   10 Comments

He knows it sounds like a last resort but when it comes to stopping the violence in Omaha, Nebraska’s top crime fighting lawmaker seriously wonders if it’s time to call out the National Guard.

In an exclusive interview with Nebraska Watchdog, State Senator Brad Ashford of Omaha, the Chairman of the Nebraska Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, said what few if any others dare to mention.

So far this year there have been 11 murders in Omaha putting the city on track for another 40 murder year. Last weekend there were five shootings, leaving two persons in critical condition and one man dead. According to Ashford, “This has all the potential of being a catastrophic summer.”  

Ashford compares the ongoing shootings on the city’s north side to an urban war zone. “It may finally be time to bring out the National Guard. How is it worse than Baghdad? Instead of bombs we’ve got bullets.”

Ashford does not foresee the Guard acting as an extension of the Omaha Police Department’s (OPD) gang fighting unit but says the Guard could assist in “traffic control” freeing up other officers to concentrate on the shoot-outs.  According to OPD the Nebraska State Patrol is already lending a hand but Ashford tells Nebraska Watchdog that budget cuts at the State Patrol may limit what troopers can do. 

Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle issued a statement to Nebraska Watchdog insisting that the “solution to violence is not simply increasing the number of police officers.” According to the Mayor it takes, “…employment, education and enforcement.”

Ashford agrees in a long term solution, “We still need prevention-intervention; we can’t give up on these kids.” But Ashford is worried that in the short term, when school lets out for the summer and kids “have nothing to do”, the violence will increase rapidly.

As for calling out the National Guard, Ashford notes that this drastic measure was taken before; back in 1968 when Guardsmen were called in to stop a series of riots that were destroying cars, homes, and businesses. Ashford believes the sight of Guard members on the street would help deter this latest round of violence. 

Just this week OPD showed reporters nearly two dozen guns that law enforcement confiscated between March 1 and April 6, most of them from suspected gang members.

The head of OPD’s anti-gang unit, Lt. Kerry Neumann, tells Nebraska Watchdog that after shootings occur and police saturate the “hot spots” with added officers, the shootings subside. “We usually don’t have hardly any incidents of violence on the evenings that we do some heightened patrol operations,” Neumann said.

At the same time Neumann says OPD can only do so much, “It would definitely help if we had more officers on the street but under the limited budget we have and the manpower we are allotted we can just do what we have to do.”

Ashford says Omaha Police Chief Alex Hayes is doing, “all the right things.” But according to Ashford the growing combination of drugs, gangs and illegal guns mixed with strained law enforcement budgets, is a recipe for “Omaha’s worst summer ever.”

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Reported by Joe Jordan, joe@nebraskawatchdog.org


Joe formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Melissa

    The bad thing about this proposed plan is that the gangbangers will have an easily available and readily identifiable target – the men and women of the Guard. Instead of just shooting each other, there’s a good chance they’ll add to their target list and start picking out members of our armed forces.

    The only hope is that – if the plan goes ahead – that those Guard troops will be given authorization to shoot back to defend themselves.

  • John

    Ashford needs to pay attention to the job he was elected to do. This is not his territory. Let the Omaha Chief of Police and the County Sheriff work this out.

    Ashford is starting to get the “Ted Kennedy” syndrome where he thinks his power extends to law enforcement or whatever.

    Go sit in the corner Brad, you’ll be called on if needed. if the Chief and Sheriff need advice, they’ll talk to the Attorney General first. Then they can go to the Governor and head of the State Patrol. You have nothing to do with enforcement.

  • Matt

    Actually, this is the Governor’s turf. Ashford or the Mayor, for example could ask, but it’s the Governor’s call. Stoplights control traffic. The Nebraska State Patrol has already been “deployed” in North Omaha. Where’s the outcry from Ben Gray, Ernie Chambers, and Brenda Council? Where’s Frank Brown? This part of Omaha is ALREADY an armed camp, but the people living there don’t seem to be interested…

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  • Andreas

    “It would definitely help if we had more officers on the street”. What? I’ve been to probably 70 major cities in my life, about half in the US, and aside from Bogota (in the middle of a civil war), I have nowhere seen so many police on the streets as in Omaha. In many cities you can go days without seeing a cop – in Omaha it is rare to go 15 minutes (while I lived about 20 years in Omaha, I have to confess I have not been in Omaha in the last few years, perhaps things have changed). But as I remember, it’s practically a police state. And they need more police?

    Maybe they could send a few copes from the white neighborhoods, where the killing ain’t happening, to the black neighborhoods, where it is. Or maybe the police are happy to let the killing and social disintegration continue ….

  • http://twilightandthebes.com Thebes

    Our once great nation is already being turned into a corporately looted Banana Republic, now this?

    Surely gang violence is a problem. But placing military personnel on the streets makes us even MORE like a Third World Dictatorship that we’ve already become. I used to live in the D.R…. I could not get over all the machine guns touted about by the government, that is just plain Un-Freaking-American!

    How about this instead, lets only use police to find people who’ve actually harmed others… you know like they used to in the days before our wars on substances and concepts. Then we’ll have all the cops and prisons we need and will stop paroling armed robbers to lock up some granny caught with a roach in her living room.

  • NotAnObot

    Horse hockey. They’re preparing the sheeple to getting used to having troops in the street (unconstitutional) for the upcoming economic takedown of the U.S. and resulting rebellion by normally law abiding citizens who have had enough.

  • Adama

    There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.

  • john smith

    Why not let the gang members just kill each other off? Just confine the violence to the city’s north side. Then the problem is solved. No police, court or jail costs to the citizens. It’s a win-win situation.

  • K.M.B.

    REALLY! Com’on now the National Guard in Omaha only in the Northeast side of town. What is that sayin about your leaders in that city. you cant controll a bunch of low life thugs…you got all these big time educated people gettin out smart by thugs! wow thats real nice. we all know that your not gonna spend that kind of money tryin to stop the shooting when the state make more money warehousing these killers! Ex resident of Omaha!