- Associated Press - Saturday, December 20, 2014

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Omaha Police leaders say they’re making a renewed push to eradicate profiling among the department’s ranks.

“Profiling is something that won’t be tolerated,” Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer told the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1wzhtAX ) for its Sunday edition. “We take complaints very seriously.”

New U.S. Justice Department guidelines announced this month ban federal officers from profiling people based on religion, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation.

The Omaha department’s anti-profiling policy, updated in March, closely mirrors federal guidelines, Schmaderer said.

The department has submitted changes - adding protections for gender identity and political affiliation - to the Nebraska’s crime commission for approval in 2015.

The Omaha department is also undergoing anti-bias training. In May, four Omaha police officers successfully completed a Justice Department-sponsored training class called Fair and Impartial Policing, taught by a national expert on biased policing. The training program teaches officers about unconscious bias and helps them to develop skills to reduce those biases, Schmaderer said.

The four Omaha officers were also trained to teach the course and are in the process of developing a lesson plan to teach all Omaha officers in 2015, Deputy Chief Greg Gonzalez said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska has endorsed the training and commended the Omaha department for implementing it.

Some community members remain skeptical, though.

Willie Hamilton, founder of Black Men United, said many African-Americans in Omaha believe they have been profiled by police, creating distrust in the community.

Hamilton said he’d like to see more black officers policing the streets of north Omaha.

“We don’t have a good relationship with the Omaha Police Department,” he said. “That is not going to change until the Omaha Police Department admits there is a problem.”

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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