'Difficult time, rewarding time,' New Omaha police officers get their badges, get to work

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

Lateral hires will help deficit in Omaha police force

OMAHA, Neb. —

Deputy Chief Greg Gonzalez wishes the new recruits luck after their graduation Friday. "It's a difficult time, a rewarding time, challenging time," Gonzalez said. "Good luck to you." And with that, the new officers head out with their new badges to work in a currently unpopular profession.

A dozen new Omaha police officers graduated Friday and will hit the streets Sunday. These officers are called laterals. "When I look at the 12 different profiles of each candidate, we have almost 100 years of law enforcement experience," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez oversees the recruitment and hiring of officers. He said the lateral officers already have their basic state certification with another Nebraska department and can get to work right away. "They can really go out and assist us and train the newer officers on the street, so it's a win-win for us," he said. With the numbers down, all Omaha officers may be called to work a different job. The numbers show the department's down about 70 officers. Omaha police said its authorized strength is 906. Currently, there are 833 sworn officers, with a recruit class of 59, that class includes the 12 laterals. Each precinct is short-staffed and some officers are being asked to work the front desk at headquarters and staff the downtown garage.

"There are times we have to help each other," Gonzalez said. "There are certainly times we have to and reallocate resources and our personnel, that's the world we live in." The assignment adjustments, Gonzalez said don't sacrifice public safety. "I don't believe public safety is at risk. What I do know is we have to work. We have to work a little harder," he said. Gonzalez admits it's a challenge to juggle schedules and pull people from different divisions. But the bottom line for the city is helping everyone. "When you wear an Omaha police badge, you're citywide," he said.

The rest of the 47 members of the recruit class will graduate in October.

Read the article here: https://www.ketv.com/article/difficult-time-rewarding-time-new-omaha-police-officers-get-their-badges-get-to-work/36985655

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