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New Columbia police chief sworn in Monday night, addresses officer retention plans


Jill Schlude and Rachel Proffitt were sworn into their new roles as Columbia police chief and Ward 2 councilwoman, respectively, during Monday night's City Council's meeting.

Schlude was named as the city's next police chief on Nov. 15, beating out three other candidates.

According to the council agenda, council members were expected to hear public comment regarding why police officers are leaving the city. However, the public comment portion of the meeting did not occur.

ABC 17 News reached out to Jordan Haag, a resident who was scheduled to speak. In an email response, Haag said due to illness, he was not able to attend the meeting, but plans to speak about the issue during the council's next scheduled meeting Dec. 18.

Schlude said a 90-day retention-and-recruiting plan she has designed for the department will aid in keeping officers from leaving. As part of the plan, Schlude noted looking into the possibility of shortening tests officers are required to take before coming into the department. This is in part due to a large portion of complaints the department has received about this in the past.

Schlude also said looking at benefits for officers is important, though she understands providing every officer with a sizable raise is not realistic.

"...Looking at what benefits are most important to officers in the department," Schlude said. "What are things that when they look at other departments attract them to go there that we don't have here, so we can see what the possibilities are of trying to add those."

Schlude also said working with community members and gaining their feedback is something she is aiming to focus on. Schlude noted she is open to the idea of using surveys filled out by community members.

FILE - Assistant Columbia Police Chief Jill Schlude was named chief on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023, at Columbia City Hall.

Going to officers directly who have left the department and assessing their reasons behind leaving is also something she noted could be beneficial in retaining officers.

"If they went to another agency, why did they do it? Maybe a good reason might be because they were offering better benefits, better pay, better incentives, better opportunities for advancement or specialized assignments," Schlude said. "So I think we just need to dig down into it and see what people are willing to tell us."

Schlude said working alongside the City Council will also be important. However, a big part will come from working with the department and communicating what aspects need to change and why.

Schlude is the city's first female police chief and has worked for the department since 2005. During her time with the department, she worked as a patrol officer, sergeant, deputy chief and assistant police chief. She replaces Geoff Jones, who retired on Aug. 1.

During Monday night's meeting, Rachel Proffitt was also sworn into her new role as Ward 2 councilwoman.

The council picked Proffitt to represent Ward 2 on Nov. 27.

Proffitt, who works at the University of Missouri's College of Health Sciences, was appointed with four votes by the seven-member council after three rounds of voting -- Ward 1 Councilman Nick Knoth, Ward 4 Councilman Nick Foster, Ward 6 Councilwoman Betsy Peters and Mayor Barbara Buffaloe. Peters initially voted for another candidate but changed her vote after the council failed to reach a majority.

FILE - Newly appointed Columbia Ward 2 Councilwoman Rachel Proffitt is seen Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, at City Hall.

Proffitt replaces former councilwoman Andrea Waner, who resigned on Nov. 22 because she is moving to a home outside of Ward 2, which covers northwest Columbia.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Nia Hinson


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