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Columbia Police Department researching new policing method

Columbia community members met Monday evening for the fourth open forum on the Mayor’s Community Violence Task Force recommendations.

The meeting focused on repeat offenders’ re-entry back into the community.

“In addition to focusing on the enforcement piece, we also need to offer those people who have had a history in violent crime to have a path out of that lifestyle,” said Michael Trapp, Second Ward Councilman.

At the meeting, Assistant Police Chief Jeremiah Hunter explained a new policing method the department is looking to implement.

The No Violence Alliance method, or NoVA, is focused-detterence policing model. The Kansas City Police Department began using the method a few years ago to try to help combat homicides in the city.

“Focusing in on the specific criminals that have caused a majority of the problems and not just treating this as a law enforcement problem or a community problem,” he said. “Giving them options to help them find what they’re looking for. Whether it be helping them write a resume, learning how to establish credit, learning how to find ways to get employed.”

The department has been researching the policing model since last April. Right now, CPD is working toward a geographic focused policing model. But Hunter said that method is hard to do while being understaffed by about 30 percent.

He said they’ve also been in close contact with KCPD to learn more about how NoVA works for them.

From 2013 to 2014, homicides dropped by 27 percent in Kansas City. But those numbers jumped back up to 109 in 2015, the highest number of homicides since 2011.

Hunter said the policing model can be focused to any particular crime, but the department’s first focus would be to reduce the number of shootings in the city.

In 2015, CPD investigated 66 shots fired or shooting incidents.

“We want to get a grasp on these shootings before those turn into homicides and before this turns into a bigger problem.”

Through arrest research data, the police department has identified 85 repeat offenders in Columbia.

“Just basically trying to dissect who would be the groups or individuals we’re going to focus in on,” Hunter said. “Who would be the best person to take the message back and communicate that with the rest of the people they commit crimes with.”

Councilman Trapp said the NoVA model is a good consideration for the police department.

“It’s going to take a little bit of resources and it’s going to take a lot of cooperation,” he said. “It could be a great community-wide collaboration between probation and parole, the city, police and also social service providers.”

Right now, there’s no set date on when the new policing method will be implemented. The department is going to continue doing more research and working with the Kansas City Police Department.

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