Omaha Police plan to open new precinct in Elkhorn

OMAHA, Ne (FOX42KPTM) - Business owner Carl Anderson says he likes the plans just announced Tuesday by the Omaha Police Department.

Police officials say the department is looking to expand, with plans to open a new West Precinct in Elkhorn in the next few years.

"Bad things happen all over the city so whenever you can increase police presence, that's good I think," said Anderson.

Anderson's shop, which he runs with his wife Leona, is just a few minutes from what will be the construction site on Cumberland Drive.

City officials say the new fifth precinct would balance out coverage, cut down on response times, and put the city in a better position to expand its borders.

Elkhorn became part of Omaha about a decade ago.

Since then, Anderson says he has heard some concerns.

"The response I've been getting from the merchants is they don't see as much police presence as when it was just Elkhorn," said Anderson. "We haven't had any problems, police officers here when we call them, but if they're closer, it's much easier to get here."

The new precinct will cover everything west of Interstate 680.

"The police recruit class, very large class just graduated, they are in field training now," said Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer. "Many of those officers will go to the western edge of the city."

The plan is to add about 40 more officers by 2019, making the total 900 by the open of the new precinct.

The city expects the cost of the land, building and staffing to add up to around $10 million.

Even with the cost, Anderson says the extra police force will help his business and the community.

"I'm sure they'll be driving through the area as they go back and forth, that can't hurt, that can't hurt at all."

City officials say if all goes as planned, ground breaking on the construction should happen next year.

The hope is to have the police precinct up and running by 2019 or early 2020.

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