Virtual town hall outlines beginning steps to redefining community policing in Columbia
COLUMBIA – The call to improve community policing is on the rise, especially in the wake of nationwide protests after the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.
In Columbia, a virtual town hall brought together community and law enforcement leaders to discuss beginning steps. Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones, interim University of Missouri Police Chief Brian Weimer and Lt. Michael Hestir, who serves as the training and recruitment supervisor for the Columbia Police Department, attended.
Boone County Sheriff, Dwayne Carey, declined his invite to the town hall, according to organizers.
One organizer said the instruction given to officers needs to call for anti-racist policing.
"That's, at the end of the day, what this conversations really about," said Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, an organizer with Race Matters, Friends. "We want to have anti-racist policing, we want to have anti-racist officers, we want to be treated like human beings in our community and that's not happening yet."
Wilson-Kleekamp added that traffic stop data is a good indicator of whether a community is over-policed.
"I would say the police stops show that is a very ineffective use of police staffing and the cost, in terms of building mistrust, is tremendous," she added.
Chief Jones said his department moved to only conduct traffic stops for moving violations at the beginning of the pandemic.
In late June, the City of Columbia hired an outside consultant, Kylar Broadus, to examine racial disparities in policing in the city.