Laura Nauser, the newly reelected 5th Ward Councilwoman, is kicking off her term by tackling the safety of the community. Nauser believes crime in Columbia is one of city's biggest problems. She says city leaders need to recognize the problem and start fixing it. "We have a lot of the shootings or gunfire and to me, I believe that's a lot of gang activity," said Nauser. "The first step I think we really need to do is admit we have the problem. We can't solve problems that you don't admit we have." Admitting is easy when you look at the stats. In 2002, Columbia police served nearly 80 drug search warrants, but in 2012, police only served 14. That's while more than half of the violent crime in the city last year are still unsolved. "We need to get busy, we need to be on the people in our community that are committing crimes and disrupting civil order here in our community," said Nauser. Back in 2008, Nauser gave the council a policy paper with around 30 ways to address crime. Now that she's on the council again, she wants to start where she left off. "Take that as a starting point to see what has not been completed on that and where are we falling behind," Nauser explained. Nauser says she wants to start by helping kids and pulling together different agencies to mentor them and steer them away from gang violence. She also wants to take a closer look at local law enforcement. "There's a lot of rumblings that there are issues with the police department," Nauser stated. "We need to get to the root of all of that, make sure we have the best police force and the moral is good." ABC 17 News touched based with other council members to see where crime stands on their to-do list. Both Gary Kespohl and Darrell Dudley say it's in the front of their priorities. Kespohl says he is already working with neighborhood watch groups and both are interested to hear what Nauser brings to the table. Nauser also mentioned she is focused on bringing more jobs and development to Columbia, but lowering the crime rate ties into more people wanting to start businesses in the city.
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