Amidst yesterday’s Mayoral Debate hosted by KMTV and The Omaha World Herald both candidates made remarks regarding the “No Cars Citywide” situation facing Omaha. While we are glad that both candidates are bringing light to this issue we want to make it clear that dismissing these facts as unreliable or untrustworthy simply because they come from Twitter or the internet is dangerous. We too listen to Chief Schmaderer; however, we also take the time to listen to the dispatchers and police officers on the streets every day. They say that they are tired of having to drive hundreds of blocks bouncing from one call to another in understaffed precincts that cover huge areas. They say that they are burned out after having to work numerous shifts without taking as much as a lunch break. They say that they are fearful that they may need backup one day and it won’t be there in time.
What does “No Cars Citywide” mean?
This means that there are no more police officers available to respond to calls across all four police precincts in Omaha. This can lead to a backlog of calls that are holding for police to be dispatched to and in turn creates longer response times. A No Cars Citywide status means that officers may be placed into unnecessary risks. Where a call may require two or three officers to respond an officer may end up responding alone thus exposing them to the potential for harm.
This can also mean officers have to wait longer for backup should they need it. Here is an example where an officer waits five heart stopping minutes for expediting (responding with lights and sirens in the most urgent manor) backup to arrive. A No Cars Citywide status can also mean that officers do not get their entitled lunch break. Lastly, when Omaha goes into a No Cars Citywide status it often means that numerous officers will need to work overtime costing the taxpayers.
The audio below is a small fraction of the time that Omaha was in a No Cars Citywide status over the past month and a half. At times you can hear one precinct holding three or four calls let alone how many calls the other precincts are holding. You can also hear an officer request another car during a foot pursuit. She is notified by dispatch that there are no cars available.