COLUMBIA, Mo. - Work to reduce crime in the northern part of town continues steadily.
The North Neighborhood Community Unity group met Thursday night to discuss the new police station that is set to to be built off Rangeline Street near Bodie Drive.
The station was approved by the City Council more than a year ago and is still in the planning stages. The Council approved the sale of almost nine acres for about $500,000. The money came from the capital improvement project sales tax.
"There's this perception that we don't get our share of city resources or attention from the city," said Ward 2 Councilman Mike Trapp. "This police station is a tangible idea that the city cares about the north side. I think it's giving back to the people who make the city work."
Police shared updates on the design phase of a four-phase process. The plan is to have the station double as a community center, something residents are happy about.
North Columbia resident Sophia Smith told ABC 17 News she was pleased to hear the city and police keep promises of creating more unity within the north neighborhood community.
"It amazed me you know because it's like they really heard," Smith said. "The city is keeping its promise and standing for us."
While the north part of town prepares for a new station, some neighborhoods are seeing more police presence than they have in the past. The Community Outreach Unit recently assigned a new team to the Sylvan Lane and Whitegate neighborhood off Paris Road. Quail Drive also be part of the officers' beat.
Two veteran officers were added to the unit in June through the COPS Hiring Program Grant. The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS.
That allowed the unit to add one more neighborhood to its list.
According to police, officers responded to calls of shots heard or shots fired between Sylvan Lane and Whitegate Drive a total of 20 times from Jan. 1, 2016, through June 1, 2017.
An April 2016 shooting that happened in the 1500 block of Sylvan Lane left 24-year-old Gabrielle Rhodes Jr. dead.
The Community Outreach Unit has seen success in current neighborhoods it works with, particularly on Bodie Drive where there has been officers assigned for more than a year. Once a hotspot for shootings, dispatch records show there have been no shots-fired calls since Jan. 1. Additionally, police calls for service to Sylvan Lane were nearly 61 percent higher than Bodie Drive in that same time frame.
The department told ABC 17 News it's unclear when construction would start for the new police station. The architect and department will meet next week to continue design plans. We were told a public hearing will happen soon.