TV ad sparks controversy between Omaha Police Dept. & Douglas Co. Sheriff

Douglas Co. Sheriff Tim Dunning in a new ad claiming Omaha is "dangerous." Photo courtesy: A Better Omaha

Is Omaha becoming a more dangerous place to live under Mayor Jean Stothert?

That's what Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning is now saying.

He's doing it through a new TV ad, one that is making the Omaha Police Department pretty upset.

In the ad, Sheriff Dunning says that in Omaha "violent crimes, rapes, assaults and property crimes are all up."

Dunning believes there's a real problem in Douglas County.

"I feel like Jean Stothert puts politics over public safety and it's making Omaha a more dangerous place to live."

That's the message he has in the ad that started running on Thursday.

Dunning goes on to say that "response times are up 10 percent on Jean Stothert's watch. Imagine if you have a life-threatening emergency in Elkhorn and the closest Omaha cop is 155 blocks away? That's unacceptable."

In response to the ad, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer, said, "The comments that were made are untrue. To suggest that the safety of the City of Omaha has gone downhill is simply not true on any level."

Chief Schmaderer says Omaha's crime rates have actually gone down and that "to call the city dangerous just to interject yourself into a mayoral race, in my opinion, was very reckless."

Earlier this month, Dunning endorsed Heath Mello as the next mayor of Omaha. The primary election is next week.

Schmaderer said, "To come in at the last hour and throw the Omaha Police Department under the bus crossed professional boundaries quite frankly."

Dunning wouldn't do any interviews on Friday, but the sheriff's office did release this statement about Dunning:

"He has publicly stated that he supports Chief Schmaderer and the men and women of the Omaha Police Department. Sheriff Dunning believes the police department needs the resources to do its job. His criticism is directed at Mayor Stothert."

The group who paid for Dunning's ad is A Better Omaha.

Spokeswoman Gina Pappas said, "We are not endorsing any mayoral candidate. We are not making a push one way or the other, but we really are just trying to shed a light on the issues that we see impacting the city."

Schmaderer said, "Sheriff Dunning and I have worked well together for long periods of time and I have respect for him, and we're going to reach out to each other and we'll put this behind us."

People with Heath Mello’s campaign released this statement: "We had no idea this ad was running and are not coordinated with that group whatsoever. People across Omaha are worried about rising crime rates, and it's not surprising Sheriff Dunning independently decided to speak out."

In response to the ad Mayor Stothert said, "My record on public safety and working with the community to decrease crime speaks for itself. The TV ad is a desperate attempt to distort that by an individual, Sheriff Dunning, who has an axe to grind."

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