Columbia Police Officers' Association holds crime press conference

Officers: Not enough police on the streets and criminals are in control

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Columbia Police Officers' Association held a press conference Thursday to discuss the city's increasing crime.

The CPOA press conference is in response to the city's news conference about crime several weeks ago.

"We don't have criminals that are out of control, we have criminals that are in control," said CPOA Executive Director Dale Roberts.

"Mayor McDavid addressed a local gang problem," said Roberts. "We clearly have a problem with criminal activity that is not under control."

While there is a peak in crime during the summer months, the officers' union says it is not just a summer problem. From Dec. 1, 2012 through Jan. 31, 2013, the Columbia Police Department reported 1,147 incidents. From May 25 through July 23 of this year, 1,209 incidents were reported, an increase of just 62 incidents.

CPOA officials say the best solution to curb the crime problem is to add additional police officers.

"We have a smaller patrol division than what we had 15 years ago," said Roberts. "What we need is more feet on the street."

Roberts said at the conference the police department paid nearly 35,000 hours of overtime last year. That would be the equivalent of 25 additional police officers.

The CPOA said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sent additional agents to Columbia this year because the city has the No. 1 gun violence per capita in Missouri.

Roberts said there were just seven officers on duty Wednesday night for the entire city due to inadequate resources, according to the CPOA.

The association has already written a formal request for 38 additional officers. Columbia's City Council will have to approve the budget and funding before any decision is made on how many cops can be hired.

In the coming weeks, CPOA will also hold public forums with neighborhood watch groups and associations about the need for more officers.

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