TARGET 8: Columbia police response times improving, but still areas of concern

1 year 1 month 2 days ago Thursday, March 16 2017 Mar 16, 2017 Thursday, March 16, 2017 7:48:00 PM CDT March 16, 2017 in News
By: Ming Ma, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - Imagine being in an emergency situation but not getting an immediate response by calling 911.

Too many 911 calls and too few patrol officers remain a continued problem in Columbia, and the waiting time for an officer to show up continues to grow. 

According to a Benchmark City Survey, the average response time in Columbia in 2015 was more than double that of four years prior: 18.72 minutes, up from 9.03 minutes in 2011. Compared to 29 other benchmark cities in 2015, Columbia had the longest response time. Columbia's time was three times longer than the average of those cities, which is 5.93 minutes. 

CPD response times two times higher than benchmark cities

The Benchmark City Survey was originally designed in 1997 by a group of police chiefs from around the country. The survey aims to be a measurement tool to help ensure police departments are providing the best service possible within their respective communities.  

 

 

However, CPD Public Information Officer Latisha Stroer said there is a better way to measure the police response time, which is calculated from dispatch to arrival, rather than from 911 call to arrival. The data shows the police response time in Columbia as lower, at 10.38 minutes. But even looking at that time, Columbia's response is still two times longer than the average of other benchmark cities, according to data provided by CPD. 

 

 

According to the Columbia Police Department, the average police response time in 2016 decreased to 9.30 minutes. However, it still remains a big concern for the community. 

Lack of police officers

"For part of that year, the police department changed the policy and had patrol office rs in pairs and the same vehicle, that is part of a safety program, I think that contribute to that high response time in 2015," Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas said. "But in general, there is no question that we are a short-staff police department that the number of officers we have on patrol that in one time for covering a city of about 65 square miles is not enough."

Thomas said a ballot issue for requesting additional 30 police officers funded through increased property taxes was voted on in 2014, but the issue didn't get approved.  

Thomas said another reason there a lack of funding for public safety is internet sales. 

"Most of our policing and fire service is paid out of sales taxes, and our sales tax revenue has been declining per capita in Columbia for at least last five years," he said. "People are buying online and not paying any taxes, so the city loses that revenue."

Thomas said many surveys indicate that compared to some similar cities, Columbia has 30 to 50 police officers fewer than typical. He said in Columbia there are only about six officers on duty patrol the city at any one time each day.

"If there are a lot of incidents to respond to, so probably in the downtown area, those response times are shorter," Thomas said. 

Stroer said heavy call load for police services is another main factor for this issue. 

"Columbia Police patrol officers have a higher call load than any the other 29 benchmark cities, no matter what size," she said. Stroer showed data indicating each Columbia officer averages 463.9 call requests per year, compared to an average of 326.2 among 30 benchmark cities in 2015. 

'Status zero'

Stroer said the police department also reaches "zero status" several times a day. 

"That means all the officers are tied up with major calls and are not able to break from that call to go to another call," she said. 

Thomas said Columbia is growing very fast, and the area for police to cover is increasing. 

"Expanding the numbers of square miles that the officers have to cover, but we haven't managed increase the number of officers at the same rate" he said.  

He said the city received a grant from the Department of Justice recently. 

"That is funding for additional officers, but only for a couple of years. We have to absorb that salaries once the grant grounds out," Thomas said.   

Non-emergencies

Stroer said a large number of non-emergency calls have impacted the long response time issue as well. She said people often call police because it's an emergency for them, but most of the cases (including people locking themselves out of cars) are not counted as emergencies for the police department. 

"People just call 911 whenever they have any issue and not knowing there is an non-emergency number," she said.

Stroer suggests people who need police assistance but are not in an active emergency to call non-emergency number: 573-442-6131. 

Currently, the police department has changed the way it handles non-emergency incidents to improve the police response times in Columbia, Stroer said.

"If it's a non-injury accident, and the vehicles no not have to be towed, then we can have the two parties to exchange the information, and then they can move the vehicles," she said. "So the officer doesn't do full accident report anymore." 

 

 

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY – A majority of Republicans passed a tax bill Tuesday night, but it is still drawing some criticism... More >>
9 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 7:21:00 PM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
TIPTON – Some Tipton residents spoke out Wednesday against a potential new concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). Critics say CAFOs... More >>
9 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 7:21:00 PM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Pamela Fitzmaurice has a special section in the cookbook her mother passed down to her. That section is... More >>
10 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 6:49:00 PM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - Puerto Rico was left powerless on Wednesday, nearly seven months after the powerful September storm,... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 5:32:00 PM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Eric Greitens filed a restraining order against Attorney General Josh Hawley on Monday over the investigation... More >>
12 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 4:34:00 PM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
MOBERLY - Moberly and Westran Public School Districts celebrated their Healthy Schools Healthy Community initiative on Wednesday. The initiative is... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 3:42:00 PM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
MEXICO - It might seem strange to sight an ocean bird in Missouri, but seeing the American White Pelican isn't... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 3:41:00 PM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman said Wednesday she was never educated on sexual assault and never realized she... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 3:37:00 PM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The Missouri Senate's top budgeter is proposing giving public K-12 schools $48 million more next... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 3:12:16 PM CDT April 18, 2018 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA – Dry, windy weather is partially to blame for a large grass fire that destroyed a significant portion of... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 2:52:00 PM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – More than one thousand t-shirts covered Kuhlman Court on MU's campus on Wednesday. That's one for every... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 2:42:00 PM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Passengers at airports across the country are learning firsthand the impact of new security measures the TSA is... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 2:07:00 PM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - By the year 2022, Columbia aims to have 25 percent of its energy come from renewable resources. ... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 1:57:00 PM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Law enforcement arrested a former employee at the state capitol on suspicion of sex crimes involving a... More >>
17 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 11:33:00 AM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Authorities say deputies have shot and killed a parole absconder who raised a handgun at them... More >>
18 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 10:22:00 AM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Authorities say a driver fled from officers before causing a fatal crash in Springfield. Police... More >>
18 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 10:15:00 AM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Police are investigating the death of a 32-year-old male early Wednesday morning at a home on Clark Lane.... More >>
20 hours ago Wednesday, April 18 2018 Apr 18, 2018 Wednesday, April 18, 2018 8:51:00 AM CDT April 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - An examination of the barriers on the 5th and Walnut parking garage Wednesday showed safety barriers on the... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, April 17 2018 Apr 17, 2018 Tuesday, April 17, 2018 11:00:00 PM CDT April 17, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 33°
5am 35°
6am 34°
7am 34°
8am 36°