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City council member lobbies for surveillance camera on Bodie Drive

A Columbia City Council member is continuing to lobby for a police camera in his ward in response to recent gun violence in the Bodie Drive area.

Second Ward Councilman Mike Trapp brought up an idea to install a police camera near Bodie Drive during the general comments portion of Monday’s city council meeting. Trapp says a camera would deter people from coming into the north Columbia neighborhood to shoot because police would be able to run their license plates.

Trapp said he believes the frequent shootings have come not from neighborhood residents but from those coming in from other areas.

Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala and Mayor Brian Treece said at the meeting this could be a larger issue and should be discussed more with the police department before moving forward on purchasing a camera, which might cost about $40,000. Skala told ABC17, “We need to talk about this in broader policy terms and city-wide terms rather than any individual ward.”

Trapp and Skala will be meeting with with a member of the Comunity Outreach Unit, Glenn Cobbins on Friday afternoon to discuss where the funds will come from, how effective survellience would be. Skala doesn’t know if the police department will attend the meeting.

Trapp has spoken with the the interium police chief, and believes he may lean toward a differnt option. “I don’t believe there is going to be the political support for a camera without the recommendation from the police chief, and I think he would rather see those resources used for personel”

Trapp also mentioned he has spoken with the Home Owners Association and believes putting cameras on private property could be a cost effective solution. “We just need to be able to read license plate numbers from cars that drive through this intersections and that could easily be done on a piece of private property without anyone having concerns of government survelliance or the cost of what we look at for a temporary camera.”

Skala mentioned that he has proposed a new technology to reduce crime in Columbia called ShotSpotter. He said the technolgy is being used in around 80 cities across the nation. “It’s an audio method to find out where sharp sounds orginate from, like shots fired,” Skala said. “(ShotSpotter) can enable the police department to respond very quickly and maybe deal with the problem much more effictively.”

Trapp mentioned that they had talked about the ShotSpotter a few years ago, and still have some concerns. “The technolgy is just still very expensive.”

Skala mentioned that the technology could be used in specific areas that are experiencing problems with crime. He didn’t know exactly how much that technology would cost, or where those funds would come from.

Skala told ABC17 that he doesn’t agree that this come from the Council’s backup funds. “There are several areas that I am struggling with in my ward as well in the northeast side, that might benefit from that treatment as well,” Skala said. “But I don’t think it should be coming from the city council contingency fund on a one time basis. This probably should be a policy issue we discuss, in terms of if survelience is appropirate.”

He mentioned how he believed the council’s reserve funds shouldn’t be used, “It’s my position that the council contingency fund and reserve funds should not be used in any specific ward unless it’s an issue we cannot deal with in any other way.”

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