City shares report on police training after data shows racial disparity

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COLUMBIA - City Manager Mike Matthes and his staff released a report Monday at the city council meeting on the types of training Columbia police officers go through before they can serve. Sixth ward council member Betsy Peters requested this information in June after the Missouri Attorney General's office released the 2016 Vehicle Stops Executive Summary, a report showing high racial disparity indexes for traffic stops.

Matthes' report, which is downloadable from the city council's agenda for this meeting, showed Columbia police officers go through about 600 hours of training at the Law Enforcement Training Institute.

Fourth ward council member Ian Thomas said the whole council was interested in understanding how much and what type of training officers receive.

"There is a lot of misinformation about what we do and do not train officers on as part of our multifaceted training program," Jill Schlude, a Columbia Police deputy chief, said.

However, both Schlude and Dale Roberts, executive director of the Columbia Police Officers Association said they did not know why Matthes prepared the training report.

The training report mentions the following:

  • Legal studies - Constitutional law, Missouri state law and traffic law
  • Interpersonal perspectives - dealing with domestic violence, crisis intervention, child abuse and ethics
  • Technical studies - patrol, report writing and criminal investigation
  • Skill development - driver training and physical training
  • Recruit training - use of force training, defensive tactics and weapons training

The vehicle stops report from June contains data from 600 law enforcement agencies and offices.

In stops involving the Columbia Police Department, data shows police searched and arrested black people at a rate nearly double the state average.

A disparity index of one would show an equal proportion, but anything more than one suggests an ethnic group is disproportionately affected. The disparity index for CPD is 3.13 for black people compared to 1.65 statewide.

Fifth ward council member Matt Pitzer said Columbia police already go through extensive training, but the council will decide if it is enough. 

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