On Wednesday the Columbia Police Department’s Community Outreach Unit gave a presentation to the Citizens Police Review Board about the goals it hopes to accomplish.
The presentation comes just weeks after CPD said it was dissolving its Traffic Unit to help staff the Community Outreach Unit.
Since April, there have been two officers working in the unit and there will be six officers once four more are chosen to fill the open spots.
Lieutenant Geoff Jones heads up the Community Outreach Unit and said the main mission is to get out in the community to build relationships with residents, specifically in high crime neighborhoods.
Jones said they are still police officers and that protecting and keeping people safe is still their number one priority.
But he said they also want to help people who may be struggling to find proper resources for things like mental health and substance abuse.
Lt. Jones said the two officers in the unit have been knocking on doors to begin the process of building those relationships.
He said they’ve also been reaching out to local organizations and churches to get those groups involved.
He believes this could help reduce crime in problem areas.
“We hope that putting these resources here and using other resources from the community will reduce not only the police department’s workload, not only city resources, but any resources in the area,” Jones said. “We really want to get to the root cause of problems and see if we can solve some of those.”
The city council will choose three neighborhoods where the Community Outreach Unit will focus a big part of their efforts.
The neighborhoods have not been assigned yet.