CPD and Sixth Ward work toward solutions

Police intend to work with the Sixth Ward about crimes on East Campus.

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe and the Columbia Police Department are collaborating to keep citizens informed about East Campus and the crimes that have occurred there.

The Sixth Ward has a meeting scheduled for an unspecified date in September to give community members a chance to meet local law enforcement.

Citizens will have a chance to communicate with the new CPD Chief Ken Burton, as well as Capt. Dianne Bernhard, who supervises the southern part of Columbia, Hoppe said.

Last summer, the Second Ward held a similar meeting that was a success, she said.

Hoppe also said one of the main reasons this meeting is needed is because of Burton.

"He has put in place some new features in the way the police department works," Hoppe said. "He wants to promote and emphasize good community interaction."

Burton has made other changes in addition to promoting communication in the community.

"There's been a whole shift in the scheduling of police officers," Hoppe said. "Getting police out when it is most needed."

CPD spokeswoman Jessie Haden said CPD is in the process of implementing a new geographic policing model. "In the past, our sergeants have not been responsible for any specific part of town," Haden said.

Soon, the geographic police model will redefine Columbia into two parts, north and south, Haden said.

"Which means when officers are dispatched, they will be more familiar with the area of town that they're dedicated to," Haden said.

Hoppe said though the meeting has not yet occurred, there are still numerous things being done in regard to safety in East Campus.

"I have met with the police chief and the captain of East Campus neighborhood," she said. "So we can have better communication."

Hoppe also said violent crime rates have in general gone down in the area, while property crime rates have increased mainly because of the economy.

"The East Campus Neighborhood Association has been working with the police in terms of identifying the individuals responsible," Hoppe said of the recent string of attacks in East Campus.

Haden said CPD does see an increase in crime when students return for the fall.

"It tapers off as students realize they need to lock their cars and bikes," Haden said.

Hoppe said there are several things people can do to prevent themselves from becoming a victim.

"Don't walk late at night by yourself, be aware of your surroundings and take well traveled routes," Hoppe said. "Typical safety things."

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