Columbia police officers voice frustration with City Manager's office
COLUMBIA - The Columbia police officers' union criticized City Manager Mike Matthes' office Monday for testifying on behalf of a defendant who pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors last year.
Cezan Stock pleaded guilty to careless driving and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. He was sentenced to two years unsupervised probation, but was incarcerated for a probation violation in April.
Stock filed a motion for a work release in September and city consultant Judy Hubbard testified on his behalf. Stock's petition was denied, but a status hearing was set for November 13.
The Columbia Police Officer's Association (C.P.O.A.) released a statement saying Stock "is a repeat offender who does not belong on the streets of Columbia". The statement also alleges Stock has "repeatedly threatened our officers as well as members of the public".
C.P.O.A. Executive Director Dale Roberts said Hubbard's testimony undermines the work of Columbia police officers.
"The officers were outraged. It's as if the police officers are sitting on one side of the courtroom, testifying for the prosecution against Mr. Stock and the city manager's office is on the other side of the courtroom, with the defense attorney, testifying for Mr. Stock," Roberts said. "That was really a blow to morale for the officers to see that not only are they not getting support from the city manager, but he's opposing the work that they do."
Stock was seen on video in August 2016 in a verbal argument with Sgt. Robert Schlude in which Schlude had his gun pointed at Stock.
"Why would the city manager be trying to help this guy when he has threatened our officers," Roberts asked. "It's not often we have people trying to threaten our officers. That's certainly part of the frustration."
Mathes said in an October 19 email to Roberts he was unaware Hubbard planned to testify and he did not ask her to.
The city hired Hubbard and Glen Cobbins in February to assist with community outreach programs. Hubbard has specifically worked on the city's "Focused Deterrance" efforts, an initiative designed to prevent repeat offenses by connecting released offenders with a variety of community services.
Matthes said Hubbard's testimony was based on those efforts.
"Her error was to take my general position and apply that to this specific case without checking with me first."
Matthes said despite Hubbard's actions she and Cobbins have his full support going forward.