Protestors just don't get it E-mail
Written by Aaron Hanson   

As a police officer, I was slightly heartened to learn that the recent march in our city, Omaha, Nebraska, organized by the Omahans for Justice Alliance, focused on their disagreements not only with the Omaha Police Department, but also on their concern for the rising tide of gang violence in our community. It would appear that certain activists have come to the realization that one tends to lose credibility with the rest of the community when the police are depicted as an even greater threat to the community than the droves of armed thugs who prey on our city and citizens daily.

The new message? The police aren’t worse than the criminal element, they are just equally as bad. As reported by the Omaha World Herald, during the march, a little boy walked down the streets carrying a sign that read, “Stop Police Brutality Against All Kids and Animals.” When I read this, I felt sad for this child whose parents,  instead of teaching their child to trust and respect the police, are instead teaching him to distrust us.

At the same time my two young sons were having fun at a local pool, this little boy was spending part of his summer vacation wearing a political sandwich board. I would like to have asked the parents what “police brutality towards kids and animals” they were referring to. The men and women I work with at the Omaha Police Department possess a deep-seated care for the well being of children, probably even more so than the average person.

We’re the ones who rescue a child from the squalor of a neglectful parent’s home. It is the police officer whose heart pounds as he scours the neighborhood for a missing child and we’re the ones who must exercise exceptional professional restraint in order to resist the urge to physically throttle adults who physically or sexually assault innocent children.

Surely the sign could not be referring to 14-year-old Marcel Davis, who was recently shot by an Omaha police officer after the youngster ran from a traffic stop and pointed a stolen handgun at him. Clearly, the sign could not be focused on the recent high profile arrest of teenager Dakota Pekas, who officers had to physically restrain after receiving nine 911 calls from the family begging for help from the police. One call from his mother pleaded,

“He’s trying to kill everybody in this house! Get a police officer here!” I could at least partially understand the portion of the sign that focused on alleged police brutality against animals. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that a former city official, police auditor Tristan Bonn, officially declared that Omaha Police officers were performing a “miscarriage of justice” when they shoot aggressive dogs. A review of the dog shootings revealed that all the dogs shot by police in that time period were aggressive breeds such as pit bulls, rottweilers and Shepherd mixes.

I would wager that the parents of 15-month-old Charlotte Blevins, the victim of a vicious pit bull attack, would have been delighted to have a police officer on scene to dole out some so-called “police brutality” on Duke the pit-bull as opposed to having their beautiful daughter’s scalp ripped away from her head. I’m glad the activist crowd has started to place more emphasis on violence in our community, but I continue to be frustrated that this group, which seems to want to make changes in our community, continue to sidetrack themselves and the efforts of others with their tiresome anti-police harangues.

Aaron Hanson is a police officer in Omaha and the president of the Omaha Police Union Local 101 IUPA-AFL/CIO.

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