The Columbia Police Officers Association announced its decision Wednesday to endorse Brian Treece as a mayoral candidate.
Treece has already declared his bid for the position, but the deadline to file a bid is January.
Despite the early decision, the CPOA believes its made the right choice in Treece.
“I don’t know if we would ever have second thoughts even if someone came along who was exactly like Brian,” said CPOA President Alan Mitchell. “We have our ear to the ground, we’re looking at who else is possibly looking at going in. In this particular case, his views align perfectly with us.”
CPOA, which has about 80 percent membership of officers from the Columbia Police Department, believes Treece holds the same values on his platform, such as making public safety a priority in Columbia government, especially adding more police officers to staff and boosting officer morale.
City leaders say the crime rate is at a 30 year low, but many residents still feel unsafe.
Treece believes there’s more to be done in the realm of public safety.
“We’re frequently at status zero, meaning there are no police officers immediately available to respond to a 911 call,” he said. “Not only is that bad customer service, it’s not a very effective public safety strategy.”
Mitchell said officer morale is low because many of them do the work of two or three officers.
“When you’re running status zero all the time and you’re being run like that, it definitely wears on you after a time.”
Both agree community policing is a priority but Mitchell believes because of the frequency of status zero, there isn’t enough time for officers to go out and get to know the community.
“A lot of what goes into public safety is not just answering 911 calls,” he said. “It’s also the ability for police officers to be proactive, be able to get to know their community and be able to fix problems before they even start.”
Treece said community policing is possible but it shouldn’t come with the cost of dissolving much of the city’s traffic unit.
“Why do we have to make a choice between having a traffic unit or having a community policing initiative?” he said.
Treece said if he is elected he wants to rake through the budget and exhaust every possible option to move more funding to public safety.
“Any budget is an expression of priorities and I think we can all agree that public safety should be our number one priority in Columbia and that should be reflected in our budget,” he said.
Calls to Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine, City Manager Mike Matthes, and current mayor Bob McDavid tp hear their thoughts on the endorsement and thoughts on city efforts on the public safety front went unreturned and unanswered Wednesday.