Constituent Newsletter

Community Policing Town Halls and the Henderson Branch Sewer

May 20, 2018

Dear Constituent:

Community Policing Town Halls

Please join me this Wednesday at the Columbia Public Library for the Ward 4 Community Policing Town Hall meeting.

Sgt. Robert Fox is about halfway through his 6-month assignment to collect public input and develop a plan and transition strategy for community policing in Columbia. He will present initial findings and facilitate small-group World Cafe discussions in response to specific prompts, at seven upcoming meetings. Food and free childcare will be provided - here's the schedule:

  • Wed., May 23 (6:00 - 7:30 pm): Ward 4 Town Hall at Columbia Public Library, 100 W Broadway
  • Thurs., May 24 (6:00 - 7:30 pm): Ward 5 Town Hall at Gentry Middle School, 4200 Bethel St.
  • Wed., May 30 (6:00 - 7:30 pm): Ward 1 Town Hall at Public Health Department, 1005 W. Worley St.
  • Thurs., May 31 (6:00 - 7:30 pm): Ward 6 Town Hall at Boone Co. History and Culture Center, 3801 Ponderosa St.
  • Thurs., June 14 (6:00 - 7:30 pm): Ward 3 Town Hall at Hanover Village Apartments, 1601 Hanover Blvd.
  • Sat., June 23 (10:00 - 11:30 am): Downtown Columbia Town Hall at City Hall, 701 E. Broadway
  • Thurs., June 28 (6:00 - 7:30 pm): Ward 2 Town Hall at Sunrise Optimist Club, 2410 Parker St.

The philosophy of community policing requires officers to assume a "guardian" rather than a "warrior" mindset, and a key mechanism for that is a properly enforced policy that prohibits excessive use of force. In 2011, then CPD Officer Rob Sanders was fired by Chief Ken Burton for violating Columbia's "use of force" policy with this attack on a prisoner in a holding cell.

For seven years, Sanders has fought back against this decision, and is currently suing the City of Columbia for wrongful dismissal, as reported this weekend in the Columbia Daily Tribune and Columbia Missourian.

I believe it’s important for those of us striving to adopt a community policing philosophy and put an end to the excessive use of force by police officers to speak out in support of Chief Burton and City Manager Mike Matthes for making the right decision at the time and sticking to it. In court on Friday, Matthes described the Sanders case and articulated an important distinction between different situations in which an officer might or might not choose to use force:

“This was not a rapidly-evolving, split-second decision regarding the amount of force necessitated. Officer Sanders had all the time needed to formulate a plan, as Baker was safely locked away in a holding cell.”

The fact that the City is still being dragged through the courts for this dismissal illustrates how difficult the cultural shift from "warrior" to "guardian" is going to be.

Henderson Branch Sewer Extension and West Area Planning Process

Requests to authorize construction of the Henderson Branch sewer extension as well as related annexation agreements are on tomorrow evening's City Council agenda.

While I never make a final decision about how I'm going to vote on an issue until after the public hearing, my current position is strongly opposed to this project for several reasons:

  • It will lead to hundreds of acres of annexation and sprawl development west of the Perche Creek.
  • Because of the location of the creek and the City of Columbia's inadequate development impact fees, this new development will add enormously to the cost of providing city services and will continue to pull public resources away from existing inner-city neighborhoods.
  • Development west of the Perche will increase calls to extend Broadway or Smith Drive across the Perche at a cost to taxpayers of at least $50 million.

Finally, the Community Development Department is making preparations to conduct a large-scale West Area Planning Process. This public engagement project will bring together land-owners, City and County officials, and other stakeholders to discuss land-use, transportation, future utility needs, and annexation in this area.

I believe we should wait for that process to take place before rushing to build a $4.3 million sewer that would pre-empt proper planning.

Constituent Conversations

My next Constituent Conversations will be held on Sunday june 17th, 2-4pm at Dunn Bros. Coffee. Dates for Constituent Conversations are always available at my web site.

Cheers, Ian