ACLU, OPD At Odds Over How Police Reform Is Going

OMAHA (KPTM) - The relationship between the North Omaha community and the Omaha Police Department has been chilly for years.

After video of two arrests showing violent confrontation surfaced in the past few years, a push to make the department more transparent has been happening.

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer and Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert say the department has made big gains toward transparency. The Nebraska branch of the American Civil Liberties Union says more steps can be taken.

Sunday afternoon, the Nebraska ACLU and other community experts held a public town hall.

The ACLU says it has received hundreds of complaints from Omaha residents.

One North Omaha citizen told FOX 42 News, "Us in the North Omaha Community, we don't trust the police."

The ACLU has recommended four major changes, mainly using body cameras to record all police interactions. It also recommends making the police procedural manual public, giving officers sensitivity training and putting together a citizens oversight board.

The Mayor's office took in many applications, and will go through them to put together a board.

Chief Schmaderer and Mayor Stothert both responded to the ACLU's town hall. Both say three of the four recommendations are either underway or being studied for eventual implementation.

The police chief declined attending Sunday's ACLU event, Mayor Stothert says she was not invited.

But the ACLU and others are still not confident moving forward. "Mayor Stothert's current plan is just more of the fox watching the chicken coop," says Amy Miller, Legal Director for Nebraska ACLU.

Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado criticized the chief's lack of participation. "It sends a message very loud and clear that the community is not worthy of engagement," the University of Nebraska-Omaha Political Science professor says.

Chief Schmaderer called the meeting misleading. In a release, he says, "Three out of four demands the ACLU has for the Omaha Police Department are either already done or have been studied by OPD for implementation quite some time ago. Any attempt by the ACLU to assert credit for these changes is completely without merit. The Omaha Police Department received full national accreditation in July of 2013 and is a professional, hard working department."