Key Point

Violent crime is trending downward overall in the metro area, but the murder rate in Omaha spiked in 2015, a 20-year high.

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Let's Break It Down

Violent crime is up in Pottawattamie, down in Douglas, and remains the same in Sarpy County.

Violent crime is defined by the FBI as murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. These crimes usually involve the threat of or use of force. Violent crime has been decreasing in Douglas County for the last 14 years. It has trended upwards in Pottawattamie Countyalthough there has been a sharp decrease in the actual violent crime rate since 2012. And it has remained the same in Sarpy County since 2000.

Despite a decrease in violent crime within Douglas County, 30-40 people have still been murdered each year in the City of Omaha since 2008. The rate reached a 20-year high in 2015, when 50 people were murdered in Omaha. As of December 2016, there have been less than 30 murders during the year. 

Why Does It Matter?

Violent crime is traumatic for the victim, and its ripples are felt throughout the whole community.

Violent crime rates provide insight into the prevalence of a community’s most serious crimes and the level of safety within it. When crime rates are at all-time highs, the extensive losses can create a lasting negative impact on a community, including its sense of safety. Violent crime has a ripple effect on the mental health of those who have lost someone or those who have experienced the crime. Children may be left without their mother or father, or a parent without their child. We have local schools where the majority of children have known someone who has lost their life to a violent crime. Residents who live in neighborhoods where violent criminal acts occur can often feel reluctant to let their children play outside, or have fears about even stepping outside of their own homes, all contributing to a general feeling of insecurity throughout a neighborhood.

Not only does violent crime affect our community as a whole, it influences the perception of safety throughout different neighborhoods. Both the causes and consequences of violent crime run deep, often making it a challenging issue for a community to address head on.

Clearances rates – calculated by dividing the number of crimes where someone is charged for a crime by the total number of recorded crimes – also may provide additional insight into violent crime trends. Solving a violent crime requires the participation of both law enforcement and the community, so clearance rates can reveal the level to which community members feel safe to talk to the police or testify in a courtroom about crimes they may have witnessed. The Omaha Police Department homicide clearance rate was 70% in 2015. Clearance rates can be a best proxy for measuring police-community relationships.

How Do We Compare?

In recent years, violent crime rates in the metro area have been lower than the national average.

Nationally, there were 367 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2014. In the same year, Pottawatamie County had a rate of 333 crimes per 100,00 people, Douglas County had a rate of 303 and Sarpy County data was not yet available. 

In 2015 when Omaha saw a 20 year-high of murders, other cities also saw large increases in their murder rates over previous years. In August of 2015 St. Louis saw a 60% increase in murders,  Milwaukee had seen a 76% increase, and both Kansas City and Chicago had a 20% increase. 

Data Source: Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics, 2000-2014, New York Times- Murder Rates Rising 

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