COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Columbia Police Department and security at Columbia Public Schools are continuing to track threats to board of education members and their families.
Six officers with CPD responded to the board of education meeting on Monday the department became aware of threats. Security for CPS was also at the meeting.
Jones said six officers would have been enough to evacuate the building or use other methods to keep people separated if needed.
Community Relations Director with CPS Michelle Baumstark said in a statement that the threats ranged in severity.
"I can tell you that yes there has been harassment, intimidation, hostility and varying levels of threats to board members and members of our administrative team and their families."Community Relations Director Michelle Baumstark
"We chose to be at the board meeting just to make sure that everybody was safe and they felt comfortable in giving public comment without any interference," said Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones.
Board president Helen Wade said at Monday night's meeting she had become aware that a state representative may have also received threats.
She spoke about legislation House Representative Chuck Basye has introduced about online learning and legislation Missouri Senator Cindy O’Laughlin introduced.
"I've been made aware that there may have been some personal threats made to one of these two legislators. Please don't do that. It's happened to me. It's not acceptable," Wade said.
Della Streaty-Wilhoit also spoke about intimidation toward board members.
"I want to thank each one of you for supporting us. I do not yield to intimidation, bullying. I don't," she said.
CPS did not request that CPD come to the meeting, but Jones said the Department felt it was necessary. Security at Columbia Public Schools keeps in regular contact with the police department about any concerns they may have.
Some threats have been significant enough CPS even had to take measures outside of the board meeting.
"We have had to hire private security to keep board members safe at home."Community Relations Director Michelle Baumstark
Jones said once the department became aware of the threats officers did extra patrol by board member's homes.
Jones said he had been told of instances of people showing up at board members' homes.
If someone threatens a public figure, or anyone else, the punishments they could face vary depending on whether it was a misdemeanor or felony.
"If it's a felony stalking for example we would take them into custody and transport them to the Boone County Jail where they'd be required to post bond," Jones said.
If the police department feels someone is a threat to public safety they could ask the Boone County Prosecutor's office to request an increased bond.
Jones said in the future the police department will send officers to board meetings if the department feels it is necessary for people to feel safe.