Columbia mayor, city leaders address recent crime and law enforcement
Mayor: "If you want to fire the police chief or city manager, start by firing me."
Mayor Bob McDavid held a press conference Monday morning to address recent crime in Columbia.
Since the City Council held its first news conference regarding crime, there has been another shooting downtown and four other crimes involving gun.
"Columbia has too much crime. Nobody disputes that," McDavid said.
McDavid proposed six initiatives to crack down on crime. The first step is to restore inter-agency cooperation. Next, he wants everyone needs to speak the same language regarding crime statistics. Third, the Youth Anti-Violence Task Force needs to be implemented. Fourth, the city needs to reaffirm Columbia Police Department organizational restructuring. The mayor also wants to prioritize fiscal matters including a possible new sales tax and pension deficit problems. Finally, McDavid proposed adding additional officers.
"If you want to fire the police chief or city manager, start by firing me," said McDavid.
According to McDavid, numbers show we have a shots fired every six days in the city. McDavid believes Columbia has an undersized police force in the city, with 10-12 percent less officers per capita than ten years ago.
In order to move forward with the crime initiatives, McDavid said the city needs an additional 35 officers. He proposed a three percent personal tax increase for the $3.5 million needed to pay for them.
At a City Council meeting later Monday, councilwoman Laura Nauser and several community members said they support the possible new tax , but others did not want to pay another sales tax.
The mayor also named the members of the Anti-Violence Task Force during his press conference. Moderators are council members Laura Nauser and Michael Trapp. Members will include Tyree Byndom, Steve Calloway, Chris Campbell, Cindy Garrett, Dan Hannekin, Pam Hardin, Mike Hayes, Christopher Haynes, Lorenzo Lawson, Paul Prevo, Glen Robertson, Jerry Taylor and David Thomas.
"The task force is a community conversation. We're going to solve this as a community, or fail together as a community," McDavid said.
The task force will be asked to make a report to the City Council of its findings and recommendations by November 2014. They will also determine history, trends and the current status of violent crime in Columbia.
At a council meeting Monday night, the entire City Council voted to approve the task force.
In addition, the Columbia Police Officer's Association plans to hold public forums in the coming weeks with neighborhood watch groups and associations to talk about the need for more officers. The first forum is scheduled for August 13 at the Stoney Creek Inn off Providence Road.
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