A Community Engagement Process about Policing in Columbia
February 19, 2017
In the summer of 2013, Columbia experienced several high-profile, public acts of violence. In response, Mayor Bob McDavid and the City Council commissioned the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Violence (MTFCV) to provide recommendations to reduce violence in the short and long term.
Under the leadership of Council members Laura Nauser and Michael Trapp, and with the support of the Columbia Police Department (CPD), members of the Task Force worked for fifteen months and delivered their final report in November, 2014. The MTFCV recommendations - organized into the categories of prevention, intervention, enforcement, and re-entry - focus on building trust between the community and police officers. To accomplish that challenging goal, the MTFCV recommended the City adopt a community-oriented policing philosophy and implement a citywide community-oriented policing program. They specifically called for "an annual forum involving neighborhood organizations, churches, public schools, CPD, Family Services Division and other interested parties to address crime, social need, and discrimination in our community.”
Now is the time to embrace the MTFCV’s recommendation. In the last two years, it has become increasingly apparent that CPD is dangerously short-staffed, that officer morale is at an all-time low, and that the community and police professionals must come together as part of an open and honest communication and engagement process. With that in mind, I have worked with my colleagues Laura Nauser and Michael Trapp over recent months to craft a Council Resolution “declaring the need to conduct a community engagement process about policing in Columbia and directing the city manager to provide staff support and resources,” which will be discussed at tomorrow’s City Council meeting. We have solicited input on this Resolution from the Police Chief and command staff, the Columbia Police Officers’ Association, individual police officers, the Columbia NAACP, Race Matters-Friends, Empower Missouri, Columbia Public Schools, Chamber of Commerce, and United Way. All of these groups support a community engagement process about policing in Columbia - several recommend a format similar to the recent Affordable Housing Symposium and Homelessness Summit.
Please take some time today to review the Council Resolution and the following articles:
- City to consider gathering input about police engagement and morale (Columbia Missourian)
- Time for community engagement around policing (Columbia Missourian guest commentary by Ian Thomas)
- What Kind of Policing does Columbia Want? (August, 2016 post at this web site)
Then, let me and my Council colleaguesknow whether you support a community engagement process about policing in Columbia by testifying at tomorrow’s City Council meeting (this item will probably occur between 9:00 - 10:00 pm) or by emailing us:
- Mayor Brian Treece
- Ward 1 Councilman Clyde Ruffin
- Ward 2 Councilman Mike Trapp
- Ward 3 Councilman Karl Skala
- Ward 4 Councilman Ian Thomas
- Ward 5 Councilwoman Laura Nauser
- Ward 6 Councilwoman Betsy Peters
- City Manager Mike Matthes
Uniform Development Code
The City Council is about to start discussing the Uniform Development Code (UDC) - a weighty piece of legislation that will replace our current zoning and subdivision laws, once adopted.
The UDC has been in the works for many years, and has the three main purposes:
- Streamline our development code which has become disorganized and complex after decades of amendments and revisions;
- Modernize the rules guiding growth, with tools such as form-based zoning and mixed-use development, to create the kind of community most people want in the 21st century;
- Respond to specific priorities identified in our comprehensive plan, Columbia Imagined, adopted in 2013.
The current draft of the proposed code will be the subject of multiple City Council public hearings over the next few months:
- Monday, February 20: Regular City Council meeting which begins at 7pm - there will be a staff presentation, followed by up to 1.5 hours of public comments
- Saturday, February 25: Special City Council meeting which begins at 9am - public comments and Council discussion to include potential amendments to the current version of the code
- Monday, March 6: Regular City Council meeting which begins at 7pm - Council discussion to include potential amendments and up to 2 hours of public comments
- Monday, March 20: Regular City Council meeting which begins at 7pm - Up to 2 hours of public comments followed by Council discussion and possible vote.
Please get involved in this important process. Feel free to reach out to me with your questions. Also, I will be holding Constituent Conversations on March 5th and 19th, 2-4pm at Dunn Brothers.
Vision Zero World Cafe Conversations
In December, the City Council adopted a Vision Zero policy with a goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries in Columbia by 2030.
The Council also directed the City Manager to work with the Police Chief, Public Works Director, Parks and Recreation Director, Public Health Director, and other relevant staff, as well as partners at Missouri Department of Transportation, University of Missouri, Columbia Public Schools, and PedNet, to design a Vision Zero Implementation Plan based on the following foundations:
- Safety is the most important factor in transportation system planning, design, and operations;
- Traffic deaths and serious injuries are preventable and, therefore, they are ethically unacceptable;
- Transportation systems should be designed and operated so that user errors are not fatal.
I am very pleased to report that the City Manager and his staff have made good progress in developing the implementation plan. They have just announced a series of Vision Zero World Cafe Conversations at which they hope to receive public input on the three sections of the plan:
- Tuesday, February 28th, 5:30 - 6:30pm: Education Strategies (online survey)
- Wednesday, March 8th, 5:30 - 6:30pm: Enforcement Strategies (online survey)
- Monday, March 13th, 5:30 - 6:30pm: Engineering Strategies (online survey)
If you cannot attend these meetings (or even if you can), you can submit an online survey on each of the three strategy areas.
Welcoming City Declaration
Several of you have contacted me to ask the City of Columbia to issue a declaration of welcome and solidarity with the diverse individuals and communities who call Columbia their home.
The following draft declaration is being reviewed by the Commission on Human Rights:
- We believe in and stand for inclusion, equity and justice. We condemn racism, sexism, islamophobia, xenophobia, and homophobia in rhetoric and action.
- We affirm that Columbia will not initiate or facilitate any efforts to register individuals based on their religious affiliation or other status. Nor will Columbia residents be subject to unnecessary restraints or any type of racial profiling.
- We recognize that equity and inclusion are fundamental to Columbia, its communities and its institutions. We stand in opposition to unjust laws that restrict city services and programs to certain individuals and/or violate individual rights based on race, religion, sex, national origin or immigration status, ancestry, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
- Equal protection under the law will be fully accessible to all individuals, as all have the right to live in dignity, without fear of harassment, bias or discrimination.
- The City of Columbia will strive to uphold all Civil Rights obligations and to ensure that every Columbia resident has a sense of safety and belonging to the community.
Please let me know your thoughts about this.
Finally, next month’s Constituent Conversations will be on March 5th and 19th, 2-4pm at Dunn Brothers Coffee.