City Reacts to Columbia's Increased Policing
COLUMBIA - With a spike in criminal activity, the Columbia Police Department has increased its street presence - with "Proactive Patrol." Today, some community members spoke out, while others stayed mum.
"I think sometimes you have to apply extraordinary efforts to meet extraordinary circumstances, and I think what we've seen over the last few weeks is certainly a spike in all sorts of violent crime. I think we're seeing from the number of arrests that have been made in the last few days that it's starting to pay off," Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine said.
The number of arrests? Seventeen in five days. Though not all arrests are linked to recent shootings and robbberies, Public Information Officer Latisha Stroer said, that's not the point. Increasing law enforcement, to decrease crime - any crime - is the goal.
"The proactive units are really just trying to be more present in the area, to deter crime and then make arrests with criminal activity," Stroer said.
Proactive patrol numbers change day to day, and comprise of K9 units, street crimes unit, SWAT, investigative, patrol and vice narcotics units.
"The police department and all those engaged in this activity right now, react based upon information they have. They're using the most current information they have to apprehend people, to look for people. Some people might say that's profiling, but it really isnt."
So what about those seven shootings in the past 28 days?
"Seven of those we've determined were all related. Between those seven, its been an ongoing feud between two groups. So, even though its been surprising, the number of shootings we've had, we've had issues with the same groups in years past," Stroer said.
The Columbia Police Department isn't sure how long it will maintain the additional policing which St. Romaine echoed.
"You can only sustain it so long, basically it's the officers who are having to work extended hours. And, I think it says something about the current resources that we have available to a certain extent. We have difficult economic times right now."