Law enforcement seminar discusses ‘Gangs in Nebraska’

KEARNEY, Neb. — Did you know there are gangs throughout Nebraska and even within central Nebraska?

You may not know or see it, but gang members walk the streets of towns and cities everyday causing disruptions and problems for law enforcement, according to Kearney Police Department.

“Gangs in Nebraska” was the topic of discussion at a seminar in Kearney on Monday.

A lieutenant with the Kearney Police Department said although it’s not as prevalent as larger areas, they do see them.

“There’s drug activity with gangs, there’s graffiti with gangs, and sometimes there is violence associated with gangs. A lot of our gang population here in transient meaning they are to and from Lexington and Grand Island, where there are street gangs over there that filter into Kearney,” said Lieutenant Jason Koetters with the Kearney Police Department.

Captain Jim Duering with the Grand Island Police Department said central Nebraska is a melting pot for gang activity as so much of what is seen on the coast comes here and then changes to conform with local ideals.

“Gangs by definition are groups of people banded together for the purpose of criminal activity. If you can think of a crime, gangs are usually involved in it. Some of that is violent and becomes territorial. A lot of it is drug and fraudulent activity,” said Captain Jim Duering with the Grand Island Police Department.

Law enforcement across the state said their goal is to educate the public and educate the kids who are more likely to get involved with a gang.

“There’s a variety of ways that they get involved and it’s important for us to identify. We’ve talked in Omaha over and over again that we can’t just arrest ourselves out of the situation. Putting people in jail for gang and criminal activity doesn’t stop it. That’s why we started the intervention and prevention efforts. We go to schools, we’ve implemented gang specialists who are civilians that go into the schools and educate kids about gang violence and they go into the youth facilities and do the same thing. We are providing programs to wrap around those kids so the kids that we see who maybe had brothers and sisters involved in gangs or are maybe starting to try to run away and get into low level crimes, we are trying to provide them resources early on so they don’t get involved,” said Omaha Police Department Criminal Investigations Bureau Deputy Chief Ken Kanger.

Kanger also wanted to add that since they’ve added the intervention and prevention programs, numbers of gang violence are down significantly in the Omaha-metro area. That’s something they’re also hoping to help build on across the state.

Law enforcement also said they’re really only seeing male gangs in central Nebraska, where as in Omaha and its metro areas, law enforcement there said they’ve started seeing a rise in female gangs which they’re working towards trying to combat with those intervention and prevention programs.

Courtesy: KHGI


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