COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Columbia City Council approved a new process to craft the future of the police department's community-oriented policing model.
The unanimous vote on Monday allows the city manager to put together a group of people to meet and discuss how the department will transition to the new model, once approved. The group will also provide a timeline for the switch and the budget necessary to do so.
Council members said it could have wide-ranging effects on the city, including public safety and morale at the department.
The police department created its Community Outreach Unit in late 2015. Six officers focus on three neighborhoods to create relationships with people there and city services, like police. The unit was expanded last year to include a fourth neighborhood after receiving a federal grant.
Money for the department has kept the city from expanding the unit, according to City Manager Mike Matthes.
Several speakers at the meeting said the process would need strong support from leaders in both the police department and city government at large. Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said any policing model the group recommends should have an estimated cost attached.
Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, president of Race Matters, Friends, said the process should also focus on leadership.
"My challenge to you is to focus on how do we focus on the leadership so that we have better outcomes," Wilson-Kleekamp said. "We can talk about the money, but we need to focus on the outcomes."
The group is tasked to present its recommendations to the city council by August 31.