- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lincoln police will use a $250,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant to hire two officers to help fight gang crime.

Despite the city’s overall crime rate falling by nearly 8 percent last year, city officials said gang member numbers have increased, as has the intensity of their crimes. Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler noted three homicides last year that authorities said involved gangs. The reason the city’s overall crime rate fell was because the number of property crimes dropped, said Tom Casady, public safety director.

He said police and city officials are concerned about the increased number of robberies, homicides and reported rapes.

“We must be proactive in this area,” Beutler said. “This will help us keep our crime rate low and the gangs under control and our families safe.”

The city applied for the grant in May, the Lincoln Journal Star reported (http://bit.ly/YUQJfZ ). Beutler said the two officers will likely be paid from the city’s budget after the three-year grant expires.

Lincoln police chief Jim Peschong said adding the officers to the department’s ranks is a “step in the right direction.” He said he plans to start training them in January.

In July, some City Council members disagreed with using funds to hire more officers instead of spending the money on Lincoln’s parks. They later agreed to hire two officers over several years without reducing funding for city parks.

The police union called for city leaders to hire more officers last year, citing increased gang violence and the number of police officers protecting Lincoln residents. The national average for cities with a population similar to Lincoln is 1.96 officers per 1,000 people. Lincoln has 1.21 officers per 1,000 people.

___

Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide