Accusations are flying and fingers are being pointed in the race for Omaha Mayor. On Wednesday Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning, who supported Jean Stothert in her first term for mayor, came out in support of her challenger, former state senator Heath Mello.
On KFAB's Morning News Dunning accused Stothert of prioritizing the city's growth over public safety. He claims Stothert is annexing too many western subdivisions and doesn't have enough Omaha Police officers to protect them.
He highlighted one recent accident as proof of his concern. He says there was a car crash at 206th and West Maple, which is in the City's jurisdiction. Dunning says one of his deputies had to respond first because the closest OPD officer was at 70th and Ames.
Dunning said "That's 155 blocks away. That's unacceptable."
In a statement, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said "Any assertion...that policing services in the city of Omaha are inadequate is untrue, politically motivated, and insulting. The OPD will continue to serve our city with professionalism and dignity. The Mayor has been very supportive of the OPD and the public safety needs of the community."
Dunning says last year he blocked calls and text messages from Stothert after the two had a falling out in 2016 about whether to build a joint City-County Crime Lab at UNMC. Dunning told KFAB'S Morning News Stothert repeatedly called to yell and argue with him because he did not support the plan. "I just didn't have time to go through that childish crap," Dunning said.
Stothert denies that she yelled at Dunning, but admits their relationship soured during that time. "I respect Sheriff Dunning and was pleased to have his endorsement in my first race for mayor. Our relationship had been excellent until we started discussions about a merged crime lab in 2016. "His decision to support my opponent is clearly a result of his opposition to the merger and the recent decision by Police Chief Todd Schmaderer to use the University of Nebraska Medical Center for evidence testing, rather than the sheriff’s crime lab. These decisions are not personal, to me it is business and how to best serve the taxpayers. I support Chief Schmaderer’s decision."
Dunning says he will not take any future calls from Stothert related to any issue that could involved the sheriff's department working with the city. "The chief of police and her chief of staff are not blocked on my phone. The have the opportunity to call me."