Task force recommends increasing trust to reduce violence

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence presented its recommendations to reduce violence to the Columbia City Council Monday. 

One of the task force's recommendations focuses on the need to build trust between local law enforcement and community members. In their report, the task force mentions the specific need for improvement in the relationship between police and the African American community. 

Task force member Paul Prevo said increasing law enforcement's involvement in the community could improve this relationship.

"Some of the task force's recommendations focus on community policing where the officers have more of an opportunity to get involved on a local level with neighborhoods," Prevo said. "They get to know some of the local leaders in the neighborhoods as well as the kids in the neighborhood, so they can develop the trust factor."

Other recommendations in this area include implementing diversity training and providing police with subsidies and lower rent rates so they can live in the neighborhoods they control. 

One of the task force's other recommendations to reduce violence involves expanding coordination and awareness of available programs for parenting skills, early childhood education and job training.

Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said she especially supported this recommendation and emphasized the need for organizations to have more contact with the community.

Prevo said presenting the task force's recommendations to the Columbia City Council is "the title page to the book Columbia is writing."

Other recommendations include an increased level of accountability for high risk offenders and creating youth facilities with personnel reflective of the community's diversity. 

Prevo said several organizations including Columbia Public Schools and the Columbia Police Department provided feedback to the task force throughout their process. 

He said task force members will continue meeting as a citizens group next year to see how their recommendations are carried out. 

To view the task force's full recommendations report, click here.

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