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Columbia homicides on upward trend for 2019

Nationwide, the number of homicides is going down but that is not the case for Columbia, according to data kept by law enforcement agencies.

FBI crime data show 14,123 people died across the country in homicides — a decrease of 1,072 homicides from 2017 to 2018, or 7.5%.

The number of homicides involving firearms nationwide decreased from 11,006 to 10,265, a decrease of 6.7%, between 2017 and 2018.

ABC 17 News compared data from Missouri’s Uniform Crime Reports, which are numbers from local agencies that are then reported to the FBI, during 2017, 2018 and 2019.

According to the data, Columbia had nine criminal homicides in 2017 and five in 2018 — a decrease of 44.4%.

Through August 2019, Columbia had four criminal homicides involving guns. But in the month of September alone, the city has seen five such homicides.

Numbers from 2017 and 2018 might include homicides that did not involve guns.

Columbia city officials said they are now trying to curb the violence.

“We’re definitely taking our community input very seriously,” said Community Relations Specialist Sara Humm. “That is something that we didn’t do a great job of last time and so we want to make sure that we’re really considering all aspects of what our community members really want.”

Officials said the city is planning to create a 2020 Strategic Plan that would include community safety. This would improve upon the city’s 2016-2019 Strategic Plan that was passed in November of 2015.

In the 2016-2019 plan, the city had originally planned to try to pass a sales tax ballot initiative that would have increased the number of Columbia Police Department officers by 70. But it failed in 2014 when voters did not pass it. According to an email from Community Relations Specialist Steve Sapp, it has not been on the ballot since 2014.

Another objective the city failed to enact was “increasing citizen interaction with the police by use of Facebook Live, podcast or social media.”

Humm said the city is currently working on the 2020 plan by incorporating focus groups and citizen input.

“We’re really gathering a good base of information to be able to make informed decisions about what our community wants and what we need to work towards,” Humm said.

Humm said the 2020 Strategic Plan will be available to the public in early 2020.


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