Skip to Content

Columbia police adding new patrols in high-crime neighborhoods

A new program within the Columbia Police Department is focusing on high crime areas. The CPD Community Outreach Unit was just formed last month. And officers said they have already seen a difference.

The unit is made up of two full-time officers and one part-time officer. They go to areas with higher crime levels like Derby Ridge, Garth Avenue, the Indian Hills subdivision near Rice road and Douglass Park.

Officer Justin Anthony with the Columbia Police Department said it is all to restore a broken relationship.

“Somewhere along the line there’s been a disconnect between law enforcement and the people we serve,” Anthony said. “And we’re just trying to open those lines back up, that way people feel comfortable approaching us and talking with us.”

Over the last year, officers have been out to Douglass Park nearly 360 times, according to the Columbia Police dispatch. That included several calls for assault, at least two reports of shots fired, more than 20 disturbance calls and more.

Officer Anthony and Officer Renee Wilbarger spend about five hours at Douglass Park each day they are on duty.

“As far as Douglass Park specific, we stay down here, we work approximately half our shift off and on talking to people just doing walk-throughs, just to make sure everything is okay and it’s a safe environment for the kids and families,” Anthony said.

Columbia Parks and Recreation installed surveillance cameras in the park, and over the past winter, moved the parking lot to Fifth Street. The improvements have helped enforcement efforts, Anthony said.

“The cameras make it really nice because we’re able to watch that from anywhere we’re at and see what’s going on down here, see who’s here,” Anthony said. “The renovations with taking away the parking lot was something that kind of took out an area that could be turned into grass, and there’s not as many loitering people in automobiles here now.”

Officer Wilbarger said the unit’s first goal is to build trust.

“I think that people are starting to feel more comfortable with us especially, and they’re getting to know us,” Wilbarger said. “And once a person starts to feel comfortable, the tables start to turn a little bit.”

Since the first of the month, officers have been out to Douglass Park about 30 times. But according to dispatch records, only two police reports have been filed.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

ABC 17 News Team


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content