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Public hearing scheduled for new police station

The Columbia City Council is getting closer to breaking ground on the North Columbia Police Station, a development that has been in the works since 2015.

“We’re placing this police station in an area that has had a high number of shots fired calls and crime and concentrated poverty,” Councilman Mike Trapp said.

Trapp is the Ward 2 Councilman, the ward encompasses north Columbia.

“It’s a really excellent placement to add stability to that neighborhood, to increase the sense of safety, to create a miraculously fast response time to that area that has historically received a lot of calls. So I think it really has the potential to really turn that area around,” he said.

The new station will be a fully-functional station with all the amenities the downtown location has, except for holding cells.

The new location will also have something the downtown location does not — a community room.

“The current police station has a lot of inadequacies, and not the least of which is it is not very welcoming,” Trapp said. “Now we’ll have an open lobby that brings a sense of openness and creates this greater chance of opportunity for positive interactions with the public and the police station.”

Trapp said the community room plays into the department’s recent approach to community policing, allowing officers to get to know residents and build better relationships.

“The police have a core function of responding to 911 calls, enforcing the law, investigating violent crimes,” Trapp said. “But they also engage with the community to prevent crime and that community room is going to be an important tool in improving the relationship with the police and the neighborhood.”

Trapp also believes once the new station starts being built, developers will invest in an area of town he believes is neglected.

“We have not seen the same kinds of commercial developments that we have seen on the south side of the city,” Trapp said. “There are not a lot of restaurants or retail or neighborhood servicing businesses.”

The city has allocated about $9.5 million for the new station. Trapp believes they will come in under budget. Groundbreaking is scheduled for summer or fall of 2018.

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