Columbia police and fire departments to help local unemployment

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Columbia police and firefighters hope to help people in a different way than usual this weekend. 

Tuesday, they announced they will host a job fair with the hope of getting people off the streets and into the work force. 

A number of officers and firefighters would go out on their typical calls and ask people what else they could be doing to help them - over and over again. The people would say "I need a job." 

Steven Bowen is homeless and struggling in his search for a job in Columbia saying his search is "bleak." 

It's more then just his appearance -- employers don't like as Bowen as a job candidate. 

"I don't fit the criteria, I'm not perfectly shaved, my hair is too long or I have a criminal history or you know they aren't looking for my qualifications or I'm overqualified," Bowen said. 

The list seems to never end.

Bowen says it's aggravating when employers discriminate against him. 

"If you're a homeless guy, they aren't looking at you. You know I don't think it's fair they would discriminate just because I have no where to live," Bowen says. 

Columbia police say having a job is a basic need. 

A basic need Steve Bowen is missing -- and one of the many reasons authorities are hosting the job fair. 

But even the police and fire departments realize they don't fit the criteria as organizers. 

That's not something the police or fire traditionally help with so we decided to create the opportunity," said Geoff Jones, spokesman for the Columbia Police Department.

They hope finding employment for those out of work will help police and fire in a different way: decrease crime and show the citizens they serve they are willing to help in different ways.

For more information visit CPD's website.

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