Citizens Police Review Board looks to improve community relations
COLUMBIA - The Citizens Police Review Board met Wednesday night and discussed how to improve relations between police and the community.
This year, members hope to create a public forum to inform community members of how Columbia police would handle a situation similar to the one that occurred in Ferguson last year.
"At the law school, we had a forum about that, and it turned out there was a lot more tension and people who wanted to discuss it then we had realized, so I figured maybe that is happening in our community as well, so maybe people would like to speak about it," board member Jayne Woods said.
The board says its biggest focus is to provide resources for the community and make citizens aware of this avenue for potential changes to police practices.
Board members are also looking to utilize social media to get the word out. Social media site Next Door is similar to Facebook but specific to certain neighborhoods. Board members see this as an opportunity to connect with their community members and be a voice for change.
In addition to using social media, board members reach out to neighborhood associations and use pamphlets to spread information about their goals and available resources.
"We are just trying to get our name out there so that people understand what we do and that we are here as a resource. It is hard to get people to understand who we are and what all we do," Woods said.
Rex Campbell, who helped establish the committee in 2009, believes the board has a tough job while trying to serve as a bridge between police and the community.
"You have to watch everything with a perfectly clear eye- which is a hard job," Campbell said to the board.
The board's next meeting is set for February 11, and members hope more people from the community will attend with questions and concerns.