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Independent Study on Policy Choices in Omaha Public Safety Spending Released

Independent Study on Policy Choices in Omaha Public Safety Spending Released

An independent study by professors at Creighton University and the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) evaluates some of the conclusions made in a recently released, city-funded efficiency study by Matrix Consulting Group of California.

The independent study examined the policy issues involved in the Matrix study's recommendations to reduce the number of sworn officers in both the Police and Fire Departments. The study suggests that the City of Omaha consider reinvesting some or all of any efficiency gains in improved public safety services.

The study also noted that Omaha's spending on public safety is typical to slightly low for a city of its size.

While the independent study agreed with the Matrix report on some points, most notably its recommendation that ambulance service remain in the public sector, the study did question two key elements of the Matrix report:

  • Whether the use of 21 community service officers to replace 36 sworn officers would net the city a savings of $1.6 million as suggested in the Matrix report. The independent study set forth scenarios in which the savings would not be nearly of that magnitude or non-existent.
  • The nearly across-the-board cutting of four-person fire crews to three as recommended in the Matrix report. The independent study examined data showing that in some circumstances four-person crews have a significant advantage over three-person crews.

“We issued this report in our individual capacities as local residents, taxpayers and employees of the two largest four-year universities in Omaha,” said Patrick Borchers, one of the study’s authors. “We do so in the spirit of public service and at no cost to the city.”

Borchers, vice president for academic affairs and professor of law at Creighton University B.J. Reed, Ph.D., dean of the College of Public Affairs and Community Service and executive associate to the chancellor at UNO, and Mary Hamilton, Ph.D., senior executive in residence UNO’s School of Public Administration wrote the report.