- Associated Press - Friday, July 29, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Some Omaha religious and civic leaders are planning events to promote peace and unity between the community and law enforcement.

Mayor Jean Stothert, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer and the Rev. Tony Sanders Jr. held a news conference Thursday to emphasize the need for such cooperation.

“It is not us against them or black against blue,” Sanders said. “It is us and it is black and blue.”

Sanders, the president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, said the partnership between clergy and police continues to grow from the solid foundation that was created more than 10 years ago. He said he hopes a rally hosted by the alliance and officers on Aug. 13 will help form new and positive relationships between residents and police.

On Aug. 27, a panel of law enforcement and community members will address police brutality and equality. The event at Howard Kennedy Elementary School is free and open to the public.

Stothert said she’s pleased that Omaha has had peaceful Black Lives Matter rallies and widespread support for the police.

“There are communities around the country that are facing issues of public trust in law enforcement. Omaha is not one of those cities,” she said. “I’m proud that difficult and uncomfortable conversations can lead to understanding and cooperation.”

Schmaderer noted that crime can’t easily be reduced without a strong relationship between the police and community. Both he and Sanders said they believe conversation can prevent a negative backlash against the black community or law enforcement.

“To respond only during crisis is to react,” Sanders said. “But to build upon relationships and develop strategic plans outside of crisis is to be more proactive.”


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

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