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CPD copes with staffing issues, slower response times; a number of applicants currently going through training


The Columbia Police Department is dealing with staffing issues that is causing slower response times, according to a CPD sergeant.

The City of Columbia, Boone County and Love Columbia held a job fair Wednesday evening that CPD attended, which Sgt. Anthony Bowne said could help the department fill its vacant positions.

According to Bowne, there are currently 27 open officer positions in the department. Eight people are currently in training through the Law Enforcement Training Institute and 10 people are leaving that training, and heading into field training. In February, the department had 49 vacancies.

Bowne said three people are going through field training right now, which is the final step in the process before becoming an officer. Those 21 individuals are separate from the 27 open positions.

Bowne said it's crucial the department fill the vacant positions as quickly as possible because the lack of officers within the patrol unit has caused response times to slow.

"When it comes to call volume, our response time is's slow," Bowne said. "We want to speed that response time for the community, we have more officers that could get out there on the streets making contact with the community and give a little bit more community support."

In February, the department noted the median time it took officers to respond to 911 calls increase from 6.8 minutes in 2022 to 7.35 minutes in 2023. The department also had 38 sworn officer position vacancies at the time.

Bowne said the soonest one of the potential officers in training could begin working is in six months.

He said the department is actively working to get positions filled by conducting interviews more often, and reaching out to the community. Bowne also said since pay raises for entry-level officers was increased from $27.50 to $28.85 in April, he believes the department has seen an increase in applicants.

"So, we used to do about once a month interviews. Now, we're doing interviews weekly to boost that up a little bit," Bowne said. "We've seen an increase in there with a little bit of the pay raise...we've been out on the streets making contact with people trying to get you know, community support, trying to get people to actually want to apply with us."

Bowne also noted the department doesn't have enough field training officers to keep up with the influx of potentially new officers. He also said the department plans to fill detective positions, as well as positions in the traffic and street crimes units after all of the patrol positions are filled.

The Columbia Fire Department is also currently hiring a new fire trainer. In September, the department was dealing with four vacancies from normal turnover.

A spokesperson for the City of Columbia Public Works John Ogan also told ABC 17 News the city is working to fill several vacant positions, including six bus drivers for Go COMO Transit.

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Nia Hinson


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