Columbia Police Increase Patrol
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department has added an extra presence in the Douglass Park and Derby Ridge areas.
In May, police added two extra officers in the Douglass Park area. The officers are encouraged to walk around the area and talk to residents. It is part of an effort by the Columbia Police Department to get to know the community it serves. Officers in the neighborhood come after an increase in shots fired. From January 1, 2011 to June 17, 2011 there were 33 shots fired incidents across Columbia. During that same time period this year, the number increased to 42.
"I believe that when they get to know you personally they trust you a little bit better than just seeing you drive by," Douglass Park Patrol Officer Jameson Dowler said.
"It makes me feel safe because I know that there's people that I know that will try and stop things that will hurt us," 10-year-old El'Saun Hutchison said.
"They come over here to the park. They'll say hi how are you? They'll engage us. They'll play with the kids. Give them little stickers and things like that. I mean they're our friends. They're not out enemies and I think that's something we should all be aware of," Parks and Recreation Summer Camp Counselor Dave Brock said.
Officers in the Derby Ridge area say their biggest concern is not shots fired, but rather neighborhood nuisances such as kids running around in the street unwatched.
"When we actually come out and talk to them, people are more likely to tell us the stuff that they're going through than versus waiting to call when something bigger happens," Derby Ridge Patrol Officer Matt Gremore said.
"I believe it's a good improvement from the past couple years. I mean police presence was not noticeable," Derby Ridge area resident Ryan Kahl said.
"Crime's going to happen, but you know I think just having the presence out here really does make people think twice before they do something irresponsible or against the law," Derby Ridge Home Coordinator Mike Garrett said.
It is not known if this increased patrol will continue after this summer.