Community policing continues to be a popular idea with the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Violence, who heard information and presentations from community members like Chief of Police Kenneth Burton in its monthly meeting, held Wednesday night.
Burton gave a presentation in support of community policing but said the Columbia Police Department’s circumstances could prevent such policing from going forward.
“Community policing is right for every community,” Burton said. “Policing, historically, has never been something that just the police did. We can't do it without the community’s help.”
Burton explained that a lack of department resources and funding prevents community policing from becoming a reality.
“We have success when we ask officers to go out and make connections with citizens,” Burton said. “But we don’t have the resources to do that everywhere.”
Burton said it would take a large increase in funds for the department to be able to afford community policing.
“I'd need upwards of a million dollars (in addition to what I already have) … This is a long-term project that we need to be committed to as a community,” Burton said.
Task force member Tyree Byndom said he appreciated the presentation and found it very helpful.
“The presentation was well-thought,” Byndom said. “He took the time to look at what we wanted, and also presented what he needed … We asked blunt questions, and the chief didn’t flinch from the punch … I think that was beautiful, and it was needed.”
Byndom said he was concerned about when community policing could become a reality for Columbia.
“I thought that’s something that we have to figure out, but (I was reminded) that’s not our task,” Byndom said. “Defining that task is what’s important.”
The Mayor’s Task Force on Community Violence is meant to “Determin(e) the history, trends and current status of violent crime in Columbia and provid(e) recommendations on what can be done to decrease violent crime within the community,” according to the City of Columbia Missouri website.
Byndom said the discourse between the task force and Burton represented a positive change in the community compared to past presentations from the police department.
“This time, it seemed like there was more put into the presentation,” Byndom said. “We’re learning as a community, and we can see that from the differences between the last conversation we had and this one. That’s measurable.”