Columbia Police Interim Chief Geoff Jones discusses past, future

4 months 1 week 1 day ago Wednesday, April 10 2019 Apr 10, 2019 Wednesday, April 10, 2019 9:49:00 PM CDT April 10, 2019 in News
By: Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor
loading

COLUMBIA - Interim Chief Geoff Jones knows the halls of the Columbia Police Department well. He's been walking them for more than 20 years.

"I've worked in patrol, I've worked the central part of city," Jones said. "I've worked as an evidence person...eventually I went into work in our narcotics unit as a plain clothes detective."

But, the chief's office is brand new to him. He took over the interim leadership role in January after former chief Ken Burton resigned. He stepped down in December 2018 after being placed on administrative leave. During Burton's tenure, the department was described as toxic and multiple groups called for his resignation.

"I get a lot of questions about Chief Burton," Jones said. "He did a lot of good things, it wasn't all negative...I think it's very important to share some of the power and authority that we have with the people that are doing the work and I think that's something that I do very well."

Chief Jones sat down with KOMU 8's Emily Spain to talk about taking over the helm in shaky waters. With two months under his belt, he said he's already made changes like setting new expectations for how employees treat and communicate with each other along with reallocating resources and allowing officers in on command staff meetings.

But change isn't always easy.

"The hardest part is overcoming the past. Overcoming perceptions of things that have happened. Overcoming some communication issues in the police department. Those are probably the hardest."

Since Chief Jones got promoted, new morale surveys show that 76 percent of officers surveyed said their morale improved or significantly improved. But Jones said he doesn't want all the credit.

"It's really about giving the people that are very good at leading people the opportunity to lead people, being transparent about decision making. I keep saying there's no secrets. And I think the officers feel empowered because they know that I expect them to go enforce the law," he said. "And they don't feel that cloud over them like they had in the past."

In the long term, Jones hopes to change the structural organization of the police department to get back to community policing and keep officers in specific beats. And he said he's not letting the "interim" title keep him from continuing his efforts. 

"We're going to keep moving forward. We have to move forward so that our police department is what it was when I came here in 1998 and that's going to require our officers to go out and meet people where they are."

He said the best part of the job is seeing people happy coming to work. But, he's still not sure if he wants it full time.

"If I'm doing well and the community feels like we're moving in the right direction and the officers feel empowered to do things and we're making positive change, but if my leadership style doesn't contribute the way I hope that it will then I'll go do something else," Jones said. "I'm not doing this for a title or a paycheck, I'm doing this because it's the right thing to do."

When asked about whether CPD would ever merge with the Boone County Sheriff's Office, he said that's not likely.

"I don't believe that will ever happen, " he said. "I don't think anybody ever really seriously considered that the sheriff would take over the city...it wouldn't happen under our current form of government. But, I think what we have now is improving as far as our relationship with the county." 

He also addressed sets of data showing racial disparities in traffic stops.

"I have asked to form a committee to look at all the information that's out there, see where the gaps are," he said adding that he feels the current data is inadequate. "So, I've asked people in this committee to come up with data, gaps and solutions together so we don't have this constant back and forth."

Chief Jones said he expects it will take at least a year before a permanent replacement for chief is made. 

More News

Grid
List
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two men with handguns in their waistbands alarmed shoppers when they entered a Kansas City-area... More >>
21 minutes ago Sunday, August 18 2019 Aug 18, 2019 Sunday, August 18, 2019 5:51:00 PM CDT August 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Band of Brothers biker group held a fundraiser for the "Mammogram Van" Sunday. The event was... More >>
4 hours ago Sunday, August 18 2019 Aug 18, 2019 Sunday, August 18, 2019 2:02:00 PM CDT August 18, 2019 in News
COOPER COUNTY – The Missouri Department of Transportation will have crews working on Westbound Interstate 70 to replace concrete beginning... More >>
12 hours ago Sunday, August 18 2019 Aug 18, 2019 Sunday, August 18, 2019 5:45:00 AM CDT August 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Neighbors were awakened by police chasing a vehicle through a west Columbia neighborhood early Sunday morning. KOMU... More >>
14 hours ago Sunday, August 18 2019 Aug 18, 2019 Sunday, August 18, 2019 3:23:00 AM CDT August 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Mall will become home to a second Dillard’s and to a hotel, pending approval by... More >>
21 hours ago Saturday, August 17 2019 Aug 17, 2019 Saturday, August 17, 2019 8:38:00 PM CDT August 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Vendors and shoppers met Saturday Aug. 17 to exchange items at Columbia Flea Swap. The flea market... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, August 17 2019 Aug 17, 2019 Saturday, August 17, 2019 3:51:00 PM CDT August 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - No one was hurt when house caught fire Saturday morning. Firefighters responded to a home at the... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, August 17 2019 Aug 17, 2019 Saturday, August 17, 2019 3:17:00 PM CDT August 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — Maries County deputies asked the public for help identifying two people who broke into a church and stole... More >>
1 day ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 9:45:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Cars 4 Kids event scheduled for Saturday has been postponed due to rain in the forecast. Organizers... More >>
2 days ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 6:04:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Over 50 cats and dogs will be available for adoption at the Central Missouri Humane Society for a... More >>
2 days ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 5:47:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - One Columbia mother said a school bus driver let her son get off the bus more than a... More >>
2 days ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 4:41:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A U.S. District Judge ruled against State Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville, in a lawsuit about her... More >>
2 days ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 4:24:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A preliminary autopsy performed on Friday could not determine the gender or age of the infant remains found... More >>
2 days ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 3:46:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A series of earthquakes shook parts of Kansas on Friday morning near Hutchinson, knocking... More >>
2 days ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 3:38:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia apologized after a community relations worker took a selfie at a crime scene. ... More >>
2 days ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 2:21:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
VIENNA - A relief fund has been established for six firefighters injured Friday fighting a fire turned explosion at a... More >>
2 days ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 12:34:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - MoDOT is teaming up with a major player in the ride-share industry as part of this year's 'Drive... More >>
2 days ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 3:14:00 AM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
SEDALIA – Governor Mike Parson told reporters Thursday he is considering a special session. The session would involve tax... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, August 15 2019 Aug 15, 2019 Thursday, August 15, 2019 9:14:00 PM CDT August 15, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 88°
7pm 83°
8pm 81°
9pm 79°
10pm 78°