Police Officer's Association Calling for Action to Curb Crime

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Officer's Association said Thursday, now is the time to get proactive in crime prevention.

"The citizens have said public safety is number one. So in response to that, the Police Officer's Association is asking for your help. If you want a safer Columbia you've got to act," said the association's executive director, Dale Roberts.

Roberts said according to statistics from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Columbia has the highest gun crime violence per person of any city in the state.

Now, the association's goal is to figure out how to change the raising crime rates.

"We need more feet on the ground," Roberts said.

He said the average police response to a call takes 45 to 50 minutes to handle and 30% of all calls require more than one officer.

That often leaves the Columbia Police Depart at "status zero", meaning there are no officers available to respond to calls because they are already out.

Roberts said in order to adequately staff the police force calculations show, they need an additional 30.8 officers.

Roberts also said the current police officers sometimes work more than 16-hour days with required overtime. He said between July 2012 and July 2013 officers worked almost 35,000 hours of overtime; something he said new employees would alleviate.

"We can not keep making these officers work this much overtime and work on their days off and expect to get any kind of a good result."

The Columbia Police Officer's Association is currently working on a date to follow up on Thursday's meeting. The meeting would be an opportunity for the public to discuss and to hear additional suggestions. Roberts said they will announce the meeting's date within the next couple weeks.

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