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Columbia Police department holds third town hall meeting Thursday night

Residents living in the southeast and downtown areas of Columbia met with officers from the police department Thursday night for a town hall meeting.

“We like having meetings like this because it’s our opportunity to let the community know what’s important to us and gives us the opportunity to find out what’s important to them,” said Lt. Eric Hughes, who is in charge of patrol officers in Beat 70 and 80.

About a dozen residents showed up for the third of four scheduled meetings to voice their concerns about the police department and ask questions about certain department policies, including their use of body cameras.

Some residents living near the downtown area expressed concerns about spillover crime in their neighborhoods with more college students starting to rent homes near them.

Others asked Lt. Hughes why they’ve had to wait 30-45 minutes for police to respond to their calls.

“We understand that waiting for a police officer to respond to your call is frustrating,” he said. “It’s frustrating for us too, because we want to be able to respond, we want to be able to provide service to the community and we want to be able to catch the criminals.”

Hughes said while calls for service have dropped 1% in his beat areas since last year, he said burglaries and car break-ins are the crimes officers respond to the most.

Deborah Stidham, a southeast Columbia resident, said she’s looking to invest in a home security system and getting involved in her neighborhood watch after Thursday night’s meeting.

Columbia residents living in the southwest part of the city will have the opportunity to meet with officers Tuesday October 25 at Gentry Middle School for the department’s final town hall meeting of 2016.

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