COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The City of Columbia recently expanded the Violent Crime Task Force in an effort to combat gun violence, but city leaders are still searching for more ways to reduce violence, including state legislature.
State Senator Caleb Rowden introduced Senate Bill 527 which would establish a pilot program known as the "Community Crime Reduction Grant Program".
The program would provide funding for eligible departments to hire more officers and training for officers.
Rowden had previously introduced the bill but it did not pass.
Dale Roberts with the Columbia Police Officers Association said the Columbia Police Department has fewer officers than what it is suggested for the city's population.
"There's basically a national standard that says a community should have 2.5 officers for every one thousand residents, and Columbia has about 1.3 officers for every one thousand residents," Roberts said.
Columbia Mayor Brian Treece said having more officers on the streets would be beneficial.
"And as I continue to meet with mayors of Kansas City and St. Louis and Springfield, having additional officers on the ground makes sense," Treece said.
He said funding from lost sales taxes from online purchases could help fund new hires.
"Anything that the legislature could do at their level to dedicate the state's portion of that into local grants for local law enforcement, I think not only avoids any local tax increase, it also expands public safety," Treece said.
Roberts said finding funding could be the biggest challenge for enacting the legislature.
"Obviously the challenge is finding the funding. There are only so many dollars. People want the highways fixed, people want other things funded. So, it will be a challenge perhaps to come up with the funding," Roberts said.