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CPOA endorses Tom Leuther in Third Ward council race

The Columbia Police Officers’ Association is throwing its support behind candidate Tom Leuther for Third Ward City Council member. The CPOA said electing Leuther is in the best interest of the law enforcement community.

The CPOA said incumbent Karl Skala has an anti-police voting record.

“There are a number of issues, important issues, where he has voted against what we feel is the better interest of the Police Department and the police officers,” said Dale Roberts, executive director for the Columbia Police Officers’ Association.

The CPOA said Skala voted against a career development program, a clothing allowance for plainclothes officers and an officer’s right to a public hearing.

Karl Skala said he’s proud of his voting record in regard to police and public safety.

“I have always supported the Police Department, including putting on the ballot issue in 2014, a property tax increase and I served on that committee to put that issue forward,” said Karl Skala, council member for the Third Ward.

Columbia residents voted down that tax increase. The money would have gone to hire more officers. Currently, the Police Department is so understaffed, often there are no officers to manage new calls.

A recent survey shows public safety is most important to Columbia residents. The CPOA and Tom Leuther said, for that reason, the department should be fully staffed and funded.

“You really need a dependable revenue stream to do that, and there are only a couple of ways that you can do that. You can’t do it just by tightening your belt, we’ve been doing that for many years,” said Skala.

Skala said despite the funding issues, the city has been able to hire nine officers in the past three years.

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