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

8 months 4 days 17 hours 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 - Officers located shell casings and vehicles damaged by gunfire Sunday evening, Jefferson City police said in a... More >>
1 hour ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 10:34:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Videos surfacing from two Columbia neighborhoods show individuals stealing packages from doorsteps. A video from a neighbor... More >>
1 hour ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 10:00:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The 38th annual holiday parade kicked off with sirens as police cars took the lead. The parade... More >>
5 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 6:09:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two students who studied at Washington University in St. Louis have been selected as Rhodes scholars.... More >>
6 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 5:21:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A 29-year-old man was in serious condition Sunday afternoon at University Hospital following a shooting Sunday morning. Columbia... More >>
7 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 4:12:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
NIXA (AP) — A city in southwest Missouri has opened the largest solar farm in the state. The Springfield... More >>
11 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 12:34:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Drew Lock threw three touchdown passes and Missouri won its fifth straight game to become bowl... More >>
16 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 7:07:00 AM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A suspect struck a victim, and suspects fired multiple rounds, brandished at least one firearm and took property... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 11:45:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – While in Chad, Haby Naya learned how to braid hair by doing her friend’s, sister’s and even her... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 11:25:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - If experience is important for success in sports, basketball players worldwide have much to learn from the Granny... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 10:53:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The nonprofit group behind the long-delayed streetcar set to operate in St. Louis' Loop area and... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 8:41:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY - A 19-year-old college freshman was driving home for Thanksgiving break Saturday when a tire on his car... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 7:15:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Dozens of people came out Saturday for the eighth annual Fall Into Art show at Parkade Plaza. ... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 5:19:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
HARRISBURG - A warm bed, a hot meal, and hugs from a loving family member are common enough memories for... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 3:00:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
CAMDEN COUNTY - Two Osage Beach residents were pronounced dead early Saturday morning following a single-car crash late Friday night.... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 2:54:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A Macon man and two others were hospitalized Saturday morning in one of two crashes that occurred... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 2:24:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – New blood pressure guidelines mean nearly half of adults in the U.S. that did not have high blood... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 2:12:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Officials are testing for asbestos among the debris left from a massive St. Louis warehouse fire.... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 1:17:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 33°
12am 35°
1am 35°
2am 37°
3am 37°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

11:35p
The Simpsons
12:05a
Inside Edition
12:35a
Paid Program
11:00p
Paranormal Activity 3
1:00a
Cops
1:30a
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

6:00p
Football Night in America
7:20p
Sunday Night Football
7:00p
The Face of an Angel
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Family Guy