Columbia anti-violence task force charts course of action

Members asking for police information, explanations

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Members of the Columbia Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence said Wednesday night they wanted answers and background about gun crimes from Columbia police.

While developing a list of research questions the group wants to answer, members decided to ask for specifics about what has caused gun violence in Columbia since 2012 at their next meeting.

Task force goals discussed Monday night included both research and programmatic plans. Several members commented that moving forward without a clear, research-backed focus would make asking for any city program changes difficult.

Member Jerry Taylor, of MFA Oil, also expressed concern the deadline for an anti-violence plan was too far away. Mayor Bob McDavid has asked for recommendations from the task force by November 2014, but Taylor said 14 months was too long and challenged his colleagues to strive for six or seven months.

During a public comment period, one Columbia mother introduced herself to the committee and promised to be at as many meetings as possible.

Shaunda Hamilton was raised in Columbia and left St. Louis to raise her kids in a safer environment. They range in age from 12 to 20.

"It's not the same community I grew up, it's much different from what it was," said Hamilton.

Hamilton said she would like to see the task force get out into the community and get more youth involvement, an issue that was moved to the next meeting after some debate.

"I just want to know that something is being done so that they're not just being left by the wayside," she said.

The task force's next meeting is scheduled for September 25 at City Hall.

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