Council member reacts to multiple shootings in downtown Columbia
COLUMBIA- After another shooting in downtown Columbia Saturday, August 4, one city council member said limited police resources could be affecting response times to certain areas.
There have been two shootings downtown in Columbia in less than two weeks. Third Ward Council Member Karl Skala said these issues go back a long time.
"This is not an acute problem, it’s a chronic problem. We have been talking about this for many, many years. It’s high on the community's agenda for public safety," Skala.
Skala said the shootings need to be discussed in context with the limited resources available to police officers.
“We are a growing city. We expect to have some increase in crime, despite the fact that with our limited resources, I think we have been doing a good job clearing up some of the issues," Skala said.
The city attempted to increase property taxes in a move to add an additional 50 police officers and 15 firefighters. Skala said this was too aggressive of a request, but said the lack of officers needs to be discussed in a manner until more resources can be acquired.
"We need to address it in the context of our limited resources until such time, we can convince the community that we need those additional sales tax or property tax revenues to bulk up our police department," Skala said. "We are understaffed, no question about that. We understand the difficulties here.”
Skala also said the city has been seeing great success with community policing, but the demand is affecting resources elsewhere.
“Community policing has reaped great rewards. We are decreasing crime in those under-served areas by 30 percent, but what that means is that we have less resources and less police officers to deal with some of the issues that are acute; the downtown area," Skala said.
Skala said within the next year there will probably be a request to increase either the sales or property tax in order to fund additional officers or better wages.