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

1 year 3 months 1 week 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
BOONVILLE - People will see a few more cars drive through town this weekend, as the city celebrates its annual... More >>
1 day ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 5:41:00 PM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
BOONVILLE – Police said a technician at a local gas station found an internal skimmer device inside a gas pump... More >>
1 day ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 4:49:00 PM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - A Fulton man could face more than 200 years in prison after being found guilty of 12... More >>
1 day ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 4:01:00 PM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – The U.S. House passed the 2018 farm bill, formally known as the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 3:49:00 PM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
FULTON - Despite rainfall these past two days, statistics show most of Missouri is dryer than usual. Data released... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 3:37:00 PM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
HUNTSVILLE – The sentencing phase of the trial for a convicted murderer began Friday. Jeffrey Nichols was convicted Thursday... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 3:15:00 PM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Graduate students at the University of Missouri celebrated Thursday after they were officially considered employees, but the celebration... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 2:32:00 PM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - MU has faced big challenges in recent years - from changes in administration to loss of state funding... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 1:43:00 PM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY - The Kansas City Police Department has canceled an Amber Alert for Brajean Sledge, a missing 15-year-old girl... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 10:29:00 AM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
McALLEN, Texas (AP) — Immigration enforcement on the U.S.-Mexico border was plunged deeper into chaos over President Donald Trump's... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 7:52:00 AM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Gov. Mike Parson signed his first five bills as Missouri's governor Friday. The bills he signed... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 7:17:00 AM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- More than 30 children attending a summer camp in Florida were taken to the hospital Thursday after they... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 7:12:00 AM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
MORGAN COUNTY - Authorities said a Gravois Mills woman died in a one-vehicle car accident near Laurie, Missouri. According... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 6:32:00 AM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A statewide campaign encourages expecting mothers to monitor their infant's movement in the womb. The Missouri... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 22 2018 Jun 22, 2018 Friday, June 22, 2018 4:14:00 AM CDT June 22, 2018 in News
NEW BLOOMFIELD - After months of tension between citizens and city officials, the city council met for the first time... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, June 21 2018 Jun 21, 2018 Thursday, June 21, 2018 9:30:00 PM CDT June 21, 2018 in News
AUXVASSE - Police in Auxvasse posted a warning on Facebook Wednesday about unlicensed salesmen in the area, but the company... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, June 21 2018 Jun 21, 2018 Thursday, June 21, 2018 7:15:00 PM CDT June 21, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - 1 and 6 males are sexually abused by the time they are 18. For the first time... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, June 21 2018 Jun 21, 2018 Thursday, June 21, 2018 6:49:00 PM CDT June 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri is changing some of its rules and regulations to offer more leave and layoff... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, June 21 2018 Jun 21, 2018 Thursday, June 21, 2018 5:34:00 PM CDT June 21, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 81°
4pm 89°
5pm 86°
6pm 85°
7pm 85°