About two weeks after learning the Columbia Police Department will be dissolving its Traffic Unit, ABC 17 News asked MODOT’s Highway Safety division if the change could affect future grants to the city.
ABC 17 News confirmed CPD’s decision to eliminate the Traffic Unit through a leaked email.
CPD is set to dissolve the Traffic Unit to help staff the Community Outreach Unit.
MODOT’s Highway Safety division is the division that gives grant money to police departments for special traffic enforcement projects and DWI enforcement.
The division’s director, Bill Whitfield, told ABC 17 News Monday that CPD never told MODOT it was getting rid of it’s Traffic Unit. He said his division heard about it on the news.
“We just contacted them and said, ‘Is this true?,” Whitfield said. “They said yeah, things are developing, and so we’re just really waiting to hear from them, what they are going to carry forward or what they’re going to continue to do or not.”
Whitfield said his division would like to see CPD carry on with the Traffic Unit as it has been.
“For us, they’re a key player in helping us reduce fatalities and injuries on Missouri highways,” Whitfield said.
He also said Columbia ranks fairly high in the state as far as car crashes.
“We’re just kind of waiting to hear, acknowledge if they’re going to work the projects given to them this year,” Whitfield said.
He said as long as they continue to work the projects, they’ll continue to receive the grants.
Whitfield said right now, his division is just watching the developments and waiting to see what will happen going forward.
ABC 17 News has talked with CPD twice about the possible impact this change could bring.
Deputy Chief Jill Schlude said in an email two weeks ago this change would not affect major crash investigations. She also said in the same email, “Basically we will no longer have officers whose main purpose is to conduct traffic enforcement activities.” CPD said the patrol beat officers will still be doing traffic enforcement.