COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Downtown Community Improvement District asked the Columbia Police Department on Tuesday when it will fill a community police officer role for Downtown Columbia.
"Our last one retired, we really want to make sure we get that role filled," CID Executive Director Nickie Davis said. "It is huge for our businesses to have a face and a name that they can actually call when something's going down and they need to know how to respond to it."
The CID held a Board of Directors meeting Tuesday night where Todd Rowland -- who is a part of CPD's Community Outreach Unit -- presented the department's update on a number of topics and answered questions, which included Davis's question on when the position will be filled.
"I don't know," Rowland said. "I was there with an assistant chief yesterday, they told me that it might be, eventually."
Rowland advised the board that if they want to see the position filled, they should, "be involved with the new chief... with whoever they hire."
Davis said the District has sent letters, "letting them know how important this has been, how wonderful it's been for our businesses."
She said the CID hopes it can keep it on the front of everybody's mind, but they understand that hiring a police chief is the department's first priority.
Davis said despite the department's staffing issues, she said CPD's presence has been great over the past few weeks after the University of Missouri students returned to campus.
"I think it's been pretty good, you know, say that cautiously, but it's been a lot of fun," Davis said. "A lot of good parties and good to see some new faces again, but yeah I think it's been as good as it can be."
Essentials Bodega owner Demetrius Woods said he is grateful for CPD's presence lately.
"Over the last couple of weeks, I can say that it probably has been a lot better, maybe more consistent," said Woods. "I know i've watched a couple of response times and I was amazed at how quick and accurate and attentive they were."
"So, as a business owner, that's always cool because it keeps customers safe, keeps us safe so we can stay open," Woods said.
This comes after a man was accused of brandishing a rifle outside Eastside Tavern on Sept. 2. Gamaliel Martinez, 34, of Fresno, California, was charged with first-degree making a terroristic threat, armed criminal action and illegal use of a weapon. A doorman at the bar prevented Martinez from entering after he was allegedly too drunk to enter.
Martinez left and came back to the bar with a rifle, according to court documents. The doorman locked the bar and -- according to the probable cause statement --Martinez set the rifle on the ground by the bar's front door and walked away. The employee then unlocked the door, secured the gun and called 911.
Eastside Tavern owner Sal Nuccio had asked for more policing in Downtown Columbia.
"With beat cops on foot patrolling the area, this incident would have never happened and perpetrators of crimes like vandalism and violence would be way less likely to act out these crimes," Nuccio said earlier this month.
Martinez is being held without bond at the Boone County Jail. A preliminary hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4. He filed an appeal to obtain a public defender on Monday. He was previously ruled to be nonindigent and was rejected from obtaining a public defender on Thursday, Sept. 7.