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Task force delivers progress report on community violence recommendations

There is still a lot of unfinished business after Columbia leaders form a city task force on community violence.

Monday night, the mayor’s task force gave the city council a progress report about what has been done after making their final recommendations last November.

One question remains of who is responsible for implementing all the plans. Each of the 26 recommendations has a suggested group in charge of implementing it. But there is no one in charge of overseeing overall completion, according to City Councilman Michael Trapp, one of the task force co-chairs. That is one thing the co-chairs are set to discuss next week.

“We want to bring stakeholders together and ask about how should we do implementation?” Trapp said. “Is this something that citizens should do? Is this something that council members should do? Or is this something that city staff should do – or some kind of combination?”

Since the final report was submitted to council last fall, there has been steady progress made on the recommendations, Trapp said.

Voters passed the “Ban the Box” issue, which helps create job opportunities for ex-offenders to get them back into the life of employment. The Children’s Mental Health Board funded a family access center. The city funded the “Cradle to Career” program to prepare all children for school by age 5. All police leadership has completed procedural justice training. And 170 new neighborhood watch members have been trained.

But there are still several recommendations that have yet to be addressed.

“I think the biggest issue is early intervention,” Trapp said. “We know that most homicides are done by young men in their 20s. But they really begin that kind of path into crime as very young teenagers and older kids.”

Others that still need work include installing school resource officers to every high school and middle school, adding “violence interrupters” or “street soldiers” to be community mediators, implementing a mandatory city-level reentry supervision program for high-risk offenders and partnering with local colleges to improve participation in mentoring programs.

“It’s a generational problem that needs a lot of help,” Trapp said. “So I would never say that things are done.”

Another of the recommendations is for the city to host an annual forum bringing neighborhoods, schools and police together to address social issues. Next week’s informational forum will act as this year’s meeting, Trapp said.

The forum will be held at City Hall Wednesday, Oct. 28 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

You can see the full report on the progress of the recommendationshere.

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