TARGET 8: Residents complain of unequal policing; data shows disparity

6 months 2 weeks 6 days ago Thursday, May 04 2017 May 4, 2017 Thursday, May 04, 2017 9:40:00 PM CDT May 04, 2017 in Top Stories
By: Lauren Barnas, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - Some residents in north Columbia claim the Columbia Police Department responds too heavily to shots heard calls, giving the north side of town a worse reputation than it deserves.

The Target 8 Investigative Team requested a year’s worth of data from Joint Communications for the period of October 2015 to October 2016 to see how many units were sent to shots heard calls in different parts of Columbia.

The data

The team requested shots heard data instead of shots fired data because shots heard calls never resulted in any proof of gunfire. CPD said if evidence of gunfire was found, the dispatcher would have changed the type of call to shots fired. Therefore, the shots heard data set refers specifically to instances when CPD was not able to verify evidence of shots after arriving to a scene.

CPD said many factors contribute to the number of units sent to a particular call, like the area's crime history, how many people have called in to report the shots heard and concern for officer safety.

"We may respond with a higher presence than we would, you know, to an area where there isn't a concern that there may be some hostility toward our officers there," Bryana Larimer, the department's public information officer, said.

Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, an advocate for community policing, is critical of the department's decisions.

"In their mind, they associate black people with being dangerous, and that's why they're sending the five cars," she said. "They're not saying that, but that's what they're doing." 

The department divides the city into eight sections, or police beats. Beats 10, 20, 30 and 40 are typically considered north Columbia. These are areas north of I-70 and near Business Loop 70. The remaining beats – beat 50, 60, 70, and 80 – are typically considered south Columbia.

Police sent an average of three and a half units to a shots heard calls in that year, regardless of where the call came from. Some calls received many more units than that, sometimes double and triple the average.

"On these calls, you typically will see our officers, at least two of them, respond to a call for service, like this," Larimer said. "But it's also gonna be up to the supervisor's discretion."

Out of the 341 shots heard calls in the year, 42 received at least seven units, which is double the average number. 37 of those calls were in north Columbia. That's 88 percent.

CPD sent triple the average number of units, at least 11 units, to shots heard calls on 12 different occasions during the year. All 12 of those were in north Columbia.

Wilson-Kleekamp said, "We don't need you to send the military in. You don't send them over to the south side for that."

The department said it's better to be over-prepared for shots heard calls than it is to be under-prepared.

"We will allocate as many resources as we need in order to keep everyone safe," Larimer said.

Role of socioeconomic status and demographics 

Residents at a Race Matters, Friends meeting said it's important to consider CPD policing techniques in context with the city's history of racial and economic segregation. Attendees said Missouri's history of slavery still affects the community today.

The Target 8 Investigative Team talked to many residents who agreed, saying a heavier police presence harms the north side - which is already racially and economically disadvantaged.

The city of Columbia compiles data to show income levels relative to each part of town, by ward. Although the city divides wards differently than the city divides police beats, there are similar boundaries that divide north and south Columbia.

The city's data show residents in south wards make significantly more money on average than residents on the north side.

"Obviously there's more money on the north side than on the south side," Wilson-Kleekamp said.

In addition to the socioeconomic implications of living in north Columbia, there are racial implications as well. The city reports significantly more black people living in north Columbia than south Columbia since 2001.

This information is consistent with data the Target 8 Investigative Team compiled to create this map based on census data:

Push toward community policing

Although the department insists it doesn't respond differently to neighborhoods, the department's website said it created the police beat map in 2009, to start geographic policing. 

"Officers worked to get to know the neighbors of their beats and understand what problems or concerns the residents had," the website said. "Shortly after this model was introduced, CPD expanded the approach and assigned two officers to Douglass Park, a known “hotspot” for calls for service and/or criminal activity in the City of Columbia. These two officers worked diligently to build relationships with residents in the area which proved valuable as calls for service to the area soon decreased."

Wilson-Kleekamp said the move toward community policing shouldn't stop there. She believes a city-wide community policing program would benefit everyone in the community.

The website said, "By October 2015, City Council selected three neighborhoods to focus resources on as part of the 2015 Strategic Plan."

Wilson-Kleekamp challenged the department to not only expand its geographic policing program, but also to change its philosophy: "What are you going to do to change the mindset of your department so it's a guardian mindset? So that when poor people in this community have an issue they're respected as much as people who have money? So that you're not seeing brown people and black people as criminals because they're poor?"

Some other families in the northern part of Columbia told the Target 8 Investigative Team they are happy with current policing in Columbia. They said they appreciate any number of units sent to a scene to potentially protect their children.

More News

Grid
List
MEXICO - A 34-year-old man died Thursday morning after he crashed his vehicle. Omar Guadencio Cruz-Martinez, of Mexico, Missouri,... More >>
1 hour ago Thursday, November 23 2017 Nov 23, 2017 Thursday, November 23, 2017 12:47:42 PM CST November 23, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY - The Boone County Sheriff's Department confirmed a pedestrian died after being struck by a car on Wednesday... More >>
2 hours ago Thursday, November 23 2017 Nov 23, 2017 Thursday, November 23, 2017 12:19:00 PM CST November 23, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - There are school choirs, church choirs, and mixed choirs, but now there is the opportunity to join a... More >>
2 hours ago Thursday, November 23 2017 Nov 23, 2017 Thursday, November 23, 2017 11:57:00 AM CST November 23, 2017 in News
BOONVILLE - The breeding home of the Budweiser Clydesdales, Warm Springs Ranch, is hosting its inaugural Holiday Lights Festival starting... More >>
4 hours ago Thursday, November 23 2017 Nov 23, 2017 Thursday, November 23, 2017 10:39:00 AM CST November 23, 2017 in News
COLE COUNTY - The Cole County Sheriff's Department said it is investigating a shooting that happened Wednesday night. ... More >>
16 hours ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 9:58:20 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri basketball star Michael Porter Jr. is recovering after undergoing surgery in Dallas Tuesday. MU said he will... More >>
20 hours ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 6:34:00 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
BARNETT, Mo - A Morgan County detective is apologizing after shooting and killing a family's dog. He was attempting... More >>
21 hours ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 5:35:00 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - On Wednesday, Columbia police released photos of an October armed robbery at Dash Liquor. On October 29,... More >>
21 hours ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 5:01:00 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Highway Patrol is joining the fight against opioids. The drug has caused a nationwide crisis,... More >>
22 hours ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 4:27:00 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A Columbia man involved in a deadly shooting in May has been indicted by a federal grand jury... More >>
22 hours ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 4:04:00 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – With Thanksgiving comes a lot more traffic on the roads. In fact, according to AAA there will... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 2:14:00 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley sent a letter to Uber on Wednesday demanding the rideshare take immediate... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 1:51:00 PM CST November 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - City Council voted 4-2 on Monday to postpone a preliminary plat for Columbia Public Schools’ new middle school... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 11:03:00 AM CST November 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A Boone County judge approved a change of venue request for a man accused in a deadly October... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 10:56:00 AM CST November 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Boone County Prosecutor's Office filed more charges Wednesday against a man arrested for two robberies in October.... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 8:47:00 AM CST November 22, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Whether it is by car, plane or train, many people will be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday.... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 2:36:00 AM CST November 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A three-car crash temporarily shut down one of the northbound lanes of Range Line St. around 6:00 Tuesday... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, November 21 2017 Nov 21, 2017 Tuesday, November 21, 2017 7:00:00 PM CST November 21, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The American Farm Bureau Federation conducted a survey on 16 food items from 25 states across the country... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, November 21 2017 Nov 21, 2017 Tuesday, November 21, 2017 6:19:00 PM CST November 21, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 57°
3pm 54°
4pm 53°
5pm 51°
6pm 48°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

2:00p
The Dr. Oz Show
3:00p
Dr. Phil
4:00p
Jeopardy!
2:00p
Maury
3:00p
The Robert Irvine Show
4:00p
The Goldbergs

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Football Night in America
7:20p
Sunday Night Football Thanksgiving Special
7:00p
Supernatural
8:00p
Arrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld