Constituent Newsletter

Moving Forward with a Community Engagement Process about Policing

July 16, 2017

Dear Constituent:

Thank you for all of the input you have provided over the last twelve months on the topic of a Community Engagement Process about Policing (more information here.

Earlier this year, the City Council unanimously adopted of Resolution R28-17, which calls for a "Community Engagement Process about Policing in Columbia that addresses staffing levels, officer safety and morale, and community-oriented policing.” To start to collect that input a Stakeholder Survey was distributed to about 30 groups, which included City of Columbia stakeholders, community organizations, and other institutions.

Every one of these groups stated that they support the resolution and almost all of them asked to be included in the process. Through their complete survey responses, they also provided invaluable input on who else should be engaged, what type of process/event should be organized, what the goals should be, and who should be considered as invited speakers.

Based on this input, Heart of Missouri United Way and New Chapter Coaching were invited to prepare a proposal for convening and facilitating a "Community Engagement Process about Policing.” In 2015 and 2016, these organizations worked together to perform similar roles (convene a diverse group of stakeholders, plan an inclusive public forum, include educational/informational presentations from content experts, facilitate honest and open community conversations, and develop public policy recommendations that have community support) for the Affordable Housing Symposium and the Homelessness Summit. Both of these events led to important policy advances that are popular with stakeholders and the community. In response to our invitation, United Way and New Chapter Coaching worked with a third consultant, Menifield and Associates, to develop a project proposal.

The proposal builds on the work of the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Violence, which recommends Columbia adopt a community-oriented policing philosophy and program:

Outcome Objective:

  • Build constituency and support for community policing in Columbia

Essential Questions:

  • Are we (as a community) motivated to adopt a comprehensive community‐oriented policing philosophy?
  • (If so), how do we implement and provide adequate resources for a citywide community‐oriented policing program?

My council colleague Michael Trapp and I believe this is a very good proposal, which will accomplish the goals laid out in the Resolution, and so we are bringing it forward to the full City Council. During tomorrow's City Council meeting, there will be a public hearing and vote on approving a contract with the consultants to implement this scope of work. I hope you will attend or email all members of the City Council to indicate your support for this proposal.

Not everyone agrees this is the correct path forward. According to today's Columbia Daily Tribune:

"Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said the city should not expend funds to ask questions it already has the answers to, pointing to a city survey that showed support for a tax increase to fund more police officers. Skala said more officers are necessary to increase CPD’s community policing efforts, and he plans to vote against the contract Monday."

While I respect Karl's position, I remain convinced that rushing to the ballot for a tax increase without properly engaging the public is a recipe for disaster.

Mid-West Community Land Trust Convening

Last year, the City Council approved the formation of the Columbia Community Land Trust.

This non-profit corporation was established for the function of acquiring land, building affordable homes on it, and selling them to income-eligible buyers. Under land trust rules, these homes remain permanently affordable and we grow Columbia’s supply of affordable and workforce housing.

If you’re interested in learning more about land trusts, plan to attend the Mid-West Community Land Trust Convening, Thursday, August 10th, 12:30 - 5:00 pm at City Hall. The event is hosted by the Columbia Community Land Trust and its regional partners, the Lawrence Community Housing Trust, the Springfield Community Land Trust, and 24:1 CLT.

For more information and registration, click here.

Other Upcoming Events:

Poverty Simulation: Wednesday, July 18th, 6:30-9:00pm at Missouri United Methodist Church (204 S 9th St, in downtown Columbia) If you have never lived in poverty, this is an eye-opening opportunity to learn about the realities faced by thousands of Columbia residents every day. Through role-play, you will have to get to work, take care of your children, put food on the table, and pay the bills - while dealing with challenges such as a family illness, a broken-down car, increased day-care costs and utilities shut off. Participating in a poverty simulation is a transformational experience.

Transportation Simulation: Tuesday, August 15th, 2:30-4:00pm at Missouri United Methodist Church (204 S 9th St, in downtown Columbia) A transportation simulation is similar to a poverty simulation, with a focus on the transportation needs of people without a reliable personal vehicle. Come along to this event to find out how hard it is to manage work, daycare, and shopping in Columbia by bus and walking.

Constituent Conversations

I will hold Constituent Conversations on Sundays August 6th and 13th, 2-4pm at Dunn Bros. Coffee. Dates for Constituent Conversations are always available at my web site.

Cheers, Ian