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Shootings common in Columbia’s East neighborhood

At least eight shootings have occurred this year in one of the neighborhoods that have been areas of focus for the Columbia Police Department’s Community Outreach Unit.

However, a high-ranking CPD leader says a plan to possibly disband the unit does not mean police will stop focusing on those areas.

The latest was Sunday, when two people suffered wounds that were not life-threatening in a shooting in the 2100 block of Ballenger Lane. Another happened last Tuesday when a 14-year-old boy was killed in what police said was a drug deal gone bad at The Links apartments off Clark Lane.

Ballenger Lane and The Links are both part of the East Strategic Plan Neighborhood, which is one of three neighborhoods patrolled by the Community Outreach Unit. CPD is considering ending the Community Outreach Unit in January, instead embedding special Community Response Unit officers on each of the city’s eight beats.

The response unit officers would perform a similar job to that of the outreach officers — Schlude said she hopes officers continue to focus on building relationships with citizens in neighborhoods as a way to reduce and prevent crime.

CPD Deputy Chief Jill Schlude said violent crime will continue to be a major area of focus. Under the plan to end the outreach unit six officers would be returned to regular patrols.

Schlude said the patrols will be assigned based on where crimes tend to happen more often.

“Looking at where do we need to staff more heavily based on what’s been going on,” she said. “Even down to what time of day are these things occurring.”

Schlude said making face-to-face contacts and becoming familiar with citizens is still important.

“There is some relationship building that’s going to have to go on,” she said. “That is one of my goal outcomes.”

The East Strategic Plan Neighborhood had at least eight shootings in 2018, according to CPD news releases. These include incidents on Shamrock Drive, Clark Lane, Ballenger Lane, Hanover Boulevard and Rice Road.

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