Home State Bill seeks funds to continue Omaha anti-violence efforts

Bill seeks funds to continue Omaha anti-violence efforts

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There was no opposition Wednesday for a legislative proposal to support partnerships aiming to reduce violence in Nebraska.

State Sen. Kate Bolz of Lincoln introduced the bill, LB1069, seeking funding needed to support an existing collaboration between the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the University of Nebraska at Omaha to implement violence prevention practices.

“We need to be more preventative and thoughtful in our approach to violence and crime in our state,” Bolz told the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee.

According to University of Nebraska Medicine Associate Professor Dr. Charity Evans, there are an average of 45 gun-related homicides, 115 gun-related suicides, 173 non-fatal shootings and hundreds of stabbings and assaults in Nebraska.

Raquel Salinas of Omaha brought tears to Chairman John Stinner’s eyes as she told the story of her son, Roberto, who died of a gunshot wound. 

“When you lose your parents, you’re called an orphan, when you lose your husband, you’re called a widow but there are no words to describe when you lose a child,” Salinas said.

Salinas said Deputy Chief Ken Kanger with the Omaha police department approached her about starting the Dusk to Dawn, D2D, program.

D2D is a hospital-based violence prevention program that aims to expose youth to the physical and emotional consequences of violence. It works directly with law enforcement and community partners in Omaha and encourages safe behaviors and environments. 

“We got to find ways to reach these kids and these families in any way that we can,” Kanger said testifying in support of this bill.

If approved, the $475,000 requested in the bill would go towards continuing programs like Dusk to Dawn, establishing other programs and continuing a collaboration between Nebraska Medicine University College of Medicine, the College of Public Health and the University of Nebraska Omaha School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Bolz said this bill would also “look at state-wide data to identify trends, identify hot spots, identify areas that are experiencing more violence than other areas in the state.”

 The committee took no immediate action.

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