Community violence task force discusses next moves for Columbia
COLUMBIA- Residents gathered at city hall Wednesday to provide feedback to the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Violence. Citizens discussed the status of recommendations given to the council a year ago, along with updates and potential improvements.
The task force focuses on four main components: prevention, intervention, enforcement and reentry. Each of the recommendations presented to the council is classified under one of these categories; numerous citizens emphasized the need for more preventative initiatives.
Many citizens agreed that a main objective is to create more recreational activities and provide resources for at-risk youth in Columbia. Some of the recommendations submitted to the council included partnering with the University of Missouri and other local colleges to help improve participation in mentoring programs and increase the number of minority mentors.
There was talk of cultural competency training that would include diverse members of the community, to be implemented for the police department and public schools. Also, there are proposals including Columbia Public Schools and outreach organizations creating positive programming highlighting youth activities and community involvement. Some citizens expressed their frustrations with previous meetings, believing that the city government was not doing enough to fulfill these recommendations.
"It appeared as though very little was happening, it was very frustrating,” Columbia resident Lynn Maloney said. “I wasn’t sure if it was in fact because very little was being done or if there was just a real failure to communicate."
Council member Michael Trapp said city staff are in the process of making these changes and implementing new policies but that changes can take time.
“Tonight's meeting was much more satisfying," Maloney said. "It’s clear that a lot more does need to be done, but we actually were able to get a little bit of connection between the recommendations and the implementations."
One of the main goals of the task force is to achieve social and racial equity across Columbia.
Jill Schlude, the Deputy Chief of Columbia Police Department, said CPD has been setting some recommendations into motion.
“Some of them are a work in progress, obviously the ones that involve funding," Schlude said. "Several of them that we’ve been working on at the police department we're addressing through different programs and training.”
The task force will hold another public forum on December 11 to discuss pending reforms and recommendations further.
Overall, the task force's purpose is to take action against community violence by attempting to make Columbia a more inclusive, diverse and unified place to live and work.