Columbia council to request CPS pay more for police services

District requested two additional officers

Columbia council to request CPS pay more for police services

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Columbia City Council plans to send a letter to the Columbia Public Schools Board of Education requesting the school district pay more for the services of police officers.

CPS currently staffs four school resource officers (SRO) from the Columbia Police Department. Terms of the annual agreement are outlined in a contract. CPS and the city have split the cost of officers stationed at schools for over 10 years, according to a CPS spokesperson.

Interim CPD Chief Geoff Jones told the council at a budget meeting this month that district superintendent Dr. Peter Stiepleman requested two additional officers be stationed at schools.

The four officers Columbia currently has assigned as SROs spend at least 75% of their shifts in assigned buildings, according to Jones. The department stations one officer at each of Columbia's three high schools, and the fourth officer splits their time between all middle schools.

In response to the request, Mayor Brian Treece said CPS seemed to have "significant revenue increases and significant demands," and proposed asking the district to pay more than 50%. No council member objected to the idea.

"School safety is a top priority and I don't know why they're not willing to invest in it," Treece said at the meeting.

Columbia Ward 2 Councilman Mike Trapp said the city is "stretched" in terms of police staffing, and is focused on improving immediate responses.

"We want to spend those times building relationships, but we have to respond when people call 911," Trapp said. "I think we have a good relationship with (Columbia Public Schools) and I don't want to see that jeopardized, but we are not able to expand that unless the schools paid more."

A spokesperson for CPS said district officials are aware of the request to increase the district's share of SRO costs.

Jonathan Sessions, the vice-president of the CPS Board of Education, said he does not think the school district will agree to pay more than half of the cost for SRO's. At the budget meeting, Jones told the council that Stiepleman also said 50% is the most they could pay.

"I, personally, have concerns with the city looking at other government entities to pay for the services they should be providing," Sessions told ABC 17 News.

As of Tuesday, CPS has not received any letter asking for a change in the SRO agreement, which expires on Oct. 1.

"Requesting a conversation can't be out of order," Trapp said, adding that he did not want start a political fight with the district. "They have to understand that CPS is only going to be a successful entity if the city of Columbia is successful."

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