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City of Columbia looking into crime prevention program


Some Columbia officials are planning a trip to Omaha, Nebraska, to look into a violence prevention program that could be implemented in Columbia.

Assistant City Manager Matt Unrein told ABC 17 News on Tuesday night that he plans to focus on public safety in his role. As part of this, Unrein said he plans to travel to Omaha to decide if Columbia could have a similar program that works to prevent violence.

Mayor Barbara Buffaloe proposed the idea of an office for violence prevention in October, after a 3-year-old boy was shot and killed in Columbia on Sept. 24.

"I'm excited to get up there and learn a little bit more about what they're doing and maybe see if we could model it here," Unrein said on Tuesday.

The program -- Omaha 360 -- was started in 2009 by the Empowerment Network. According to its website, the program uses a collaborative approach to make its city safer. It works to reduce homicides, gun violence, youth and gang violence, as well as creating stronger relationships between the police department and community members.

Data from the Omaha Police Department shows a significant decrease in crime since being implemented in 2009. There were 50 reported criminal homicides in the city in 2015. In five years, that number fell to 37 reported criminal homicides.

The most recent data from 2022 shows there were 30 homicides, which is a 6% decrease from the prior year. The Omaha Police Department also reports there was a 74% decrease in gun violence from 2008-2018.

Omaha 360 holds weekly meetings consisting of 80-120 people, including activists, residents, educators, law enforcement, pastors and youth-development specialists to discuss reducing gun violence, according to their website.

Cities around the country have started looking into implementing the program, including Kansas City, who started up the KC 360. Columbia city leaders said it's not known when a program could begin in Columbia.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Nia Hinson


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