COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Columbia/Boone County Health Director Stephanie Browning and city council members discussed how issues in the 2014 Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence have already been addressed in the community and what still needs improvement in the future.
This discussion took place at Monday night's City Council meeting.
Watch the presentation replay and public comment in the player below.
This comes after there have been eight shootings in downtown Columbia in the past two months, and several people bringing their concerns on the increased violence to city leaders, the council laid out plans to address gun violence.
Browning said this issue is not just a city problem, she said it's a community problem and everyone needs to work together on a solution.
Browning discussed the four groups that the task force research is broken into, this includes prevention, intervention, enforcement, and re-entry.
She said there's one main thing the city could have done better on in 2014. "We did not dedicate a person to coordinate across city departments, with city government, with the educational institutions and the nonprofits that we just did not put the resources there," Browning said.
Councilman Ian Thomas said the city now has the funds to find that person.
"The equity officer that is in the budget that will be appointed sometime next year as well as other American Rescue Plan Act funds that can be used for several years in that position," Thomas said.
Pat Fowler, First Ward Councilwoman, said the council will also use American Rescue Plan Money to increase downtown safety.
In the 2014 report, the task force wanted to create more youth facilities and build trust among the community and law enforcement and asked for "a higher level of accountability for the community's highest risk offenders."
Browning said although there is work that needs to be done, the city has taken community steps like new school resource officers, the vehicle stops committee, the CARE program and more.
Mayor Brian Treece said most of the recent downtown violence have had a common denominator.
"The common denominator over the last three shootings have all been the individuals had some type of prior arrest, if not incarceration," Treece said.
Treece said it's important to find solutions for other offender reentry programs that can keep individuals from falling back into that situation.
With a lot of the violence coming in Pat Fowler's Ward 1, Fowler said nonprofits are a huge part of stopping the violence and it's important that the city makes employment opportunities available to these people and pay them adequately so that the violence is taken care of.