Police staffing issues highlight of community policing discussion

Police staffing issues highlight community policing discussion

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Columbia city council will vote Monday on a proposal that would begin the process of creating a city-wide community policing program.

Despite the strong support from the Columbia Police Officers Association and the city council, there are issues that need to be addressed first, according to CPOA Executive Director Dale Roberts.

"We don't have enough officers to provide the service that this city demands," Roberts said referring to the results of a recent city survey. "Everything comes back to the lack of staffing."

Columbia police officers currently have heavy workloads, which prevents them from working with communities to prevent crime, according to Roberts.

Roberts said more than 100 new officers would be needed to pull off a city-wide community policing plan. Community-oriented policing, Roberts said, is more labor-intensive on each officer.

According to a 2016 Benchmark Cities Survey, which collects data from 30 different cities including Columbia, the average number of officers per 1,000 citizens is 1.41 officers. Columbia was just off the average with 1.43.

In order to pay for additional officers and resources the city could ask voters to support a new permanent property tax. According to Columbia's citizen survey, over 50% of residents would support the tax to fund public safety services.

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