Columbia city leaders are speaking out about crime and the status of public safety. While improvements need to be made, new statistics from the FBI show some crime is decreasing in Columbia.Mayor Bob McDavid said the citizen satisfaction with the Columbia Police Department is too low, which likely stems from crime in the community. However, McDavid also said while its not good, things are getting better.”Over the past two years we had seen an uptick while nationally there was a decline of violent crime, and the first six months report from the FBI is out and we have actually had a drop,” said McDavid. FBI data shows violent crime in the spring of 2012 dropped 17% in Columbia compared to the year before, however murders tripled. The problem is the numbers only show crime where there’s a victim. ABC 17 News counted 11 shootings in 28 days last spring, including the one at Chuckie Cheese’s. The data only shows shootings where a person is hit, so that shooting and many others are not counted. Move forward to 2013 and the gunfire is continuing with four shootings just this month. McDavid acknowledges there’s still a problem, and said “Those shootings are part of drug activity and they do not shot show up in the violent crime reports, having said that the community has been engaged with this.” The mayor credits public movements like Silence the Violence as helping curb violent trends, he also says changes at the police department will continue the progress.At this same time last year the Columbia Police Department was given a review by a third party and 14 necessary improvements were found including low employee morale. To date so far, four items on the list have been completed and the city manager is overseeing continued changes.Those four completed include training, salary issue, and review of management positions. As police check off items on their 14 point improvement list, McDavid says the city is summed up like this “We are highly engaged, changes are occurring, and I think we are seeing a turn towards improvement.”Over the last decade the police department has continuously gotten less funding when compared to inflation and population. This is partially due to the fact profit from sales tax has decreased. McDavid says this is a problem that the city needs to change, and getting more officers out in the community interacting with people would likely make Columbia a safer place.
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