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CPD sees improvement in clearance rates amid short staffing, slower responses


The Columbia Police Department has been solving crimes at a better rate the past couple of years but is still struggling with too few officers and slower responses to calls, according to official data.

According to the FBI's Crime Data Explorer, CPD's clearance rates ticked up slightly between 2021-2022, the most recent year with available data. The number of crimes reported has decreased slightly.

Meanwhile, the department continues to struggle to fill open positions, which leadership says affects things such as how long it takes for officers to respond to calls. CPD has 49 vacancies, 38 of which are sworn officer positions. Eleven are civilian positions.

Crimes reported by the Columbia Police Department

YearCrimes ReportedCrimes Cleared
2019404138 (34%)
2020270204 (75%)
2021645242 (37%)
2022603269 (45%)
FBI Note: Crimes are not necessarily cleared in the year they occur.

According to the FBI database, there were 479 violent crime incidents reported in 2022.

The FBI defines a violent crime as homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Other classifications are the property crimes/non-violent crimes of burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft.

The violent crimes, of course, get the most attention and the quickest response.

"We are going to investigate crimes against persons before we investigate property crimes," CPD Chief Jill Schlude said in an interview with ABC 17 News.

Schlude said the department's detective unit is only 65-70% staffed.

"When we have rashes of thefts into motor vehicles, thefts of motor vehicles, burglaries, those crimes are not being worked as intensely as we would like," said Schlude. "Because we just don't have the staff."

"We have to deal with things like robberies, assaults, and homicides first," Schlude said.

CPD property crime clearance rates 2023

Type of Crime:Number of Offenses:Percent of Clearance:
Motor Vehicle Theft44512.36%
Larceny (Theft)2,3988.67%
Data provided by the Columbia Police Department.

CPD violent crime clearance rates 2023

Type of Crime:Number of Offenses:Percent of Clearance:
Aggravated Assault36943.36%
Sexual Assault765.26%
Data provided by the Columbia Police Department.

According to the department in 2023, the current average clearance rate for violent crimes is approximately 45%. That beats the overall crime clearance rate in 2021 and matches that of 2022.

Schlude said the department has 14 detectives on staff, with at least two openings in its Criminal Investigation Unit and four openings in its Special Investigations Division.

Several factors go into the department's decision on which cases are investigated first by detectives. Violent crimes take precedence followed by non-violent, property crimes. Detectives look at the cases using solvability factors to determine the case's likelihood of being solved, and which cases will be investigated first.

"It really just depends on the severity of the case and the crime," said Schlude. "As the city grows and as we get busier, you need to exponentially grow each one of those units to handle the increased caseload. And we just haven't been able to do that because of staffing."

Staffing up

Schlude has only held her position for a few months. Still, she has already begun hiring new officers and has made some major changes to make the application process easier.

"We changed our approach to testing," Schlude said, "in the spirit of trying to remove barriers to get things done."

On Feb. 2, the department moved its testing portion online.

Check back here and watch our special report Wednesday at 10 p.m. for more on how staffing has caused slower police responses to reports of crime.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Marina Diaz

Marina is a Multimedia Journalist for ABC 17 News, she is originally from Denver, Colorado. She went to Missouri Valley College where she played lacrosse and basketball, and anchored her school’s newscast.


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