Increased gang membership causes Lincoln police to ask for addit - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Increased gang membership causes Lincoln police to ask for additional officers

Increased gang membership causes Lincoln police to ask for additional officers

By: Andrew Ward
award@klkntv.com

The Lincoln police department is looking to add officers to its staff to help halt an increase in gang violence. 


An 18 percent growth in gang membership in the last year is what's causing the department to take action. 


Lincoln mayor Chris Beutler announced in a news conference Thursday that the department has applied for a federal grant to add two officers in Lincoln. If accepted, those officers will specifically focus on gang–related crime.


"Our goal here is to really commit the resources to stay on top of this so we can minimize gang membership or those getting involved in violent crime in the community," said Jim Peschong, Lincoln’s police chief.

On top of increased membership there have been three gang–related murders in the last year in Lincoln.

David Mueller and Shane Walton were beaten to death by gang members last summer while the other homicide happened in December of 2013 when Hector Lopez shot and killed Erik Musito on 18th and G streets.

Lincoln police hope to avoid these kinds of cases with the additional officers.

"This will allow us to be proactive rather than investigating gang–related crimes after the fact," said Tom Casady, Lincoln's public safety director.

But Casady also says the focus is now where it should be. 

"It's not a new problem, it's just something we get a sense is getting a bit more intense,” Casady said. “We want to make sure we are doing the best thing we can from allowing it to get more serious."

It's a waiting game now for LPD as Peschong says the federal grant likely won't be approved until September.

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