Columbia Plans Multi-Million Dollar Police Station Upgrade

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COLUMBIA -The City of Columbia is planning a multi-million dollar project to upgrade its police facilities. The city plans to demolish and rebuild the current station in downtown Columbia and build two additional stations in north and south Columbia. The downtown renovations would cost an estimated $10 million, the north Columbia station would cost $14.5 million and the south Columbia station would cost $10 million, totaling more than $34 million for the entire project.

The project would take place over the course of the next eight years, with the north station built in 2015, the downtown renovations happening in 2017 and the South station built in 2021. 

All three of the stations would be fully functional and have command centers.

City Manager Mike Matthes said the new and revamped stations will give the Columbia Police Department more reach through the city.

"With the precinct approach we can have more of a presence in the neighborhoods than we have today and that's absolutely a goal that we have," Matthes said. 

But some Columbia residents question the need for more stations. Resident Pikara Poole said she can see a need for one additional station in north Columbia, but not two more. 

"I feel like two stations is enough...and that money could be used for many other programs," Poole said. 

KOMU looked into how many police stations other cities similar to Columbia have. Columbia has a population of about 110,00. Fayetteville, Ark. is home of the University of Arkansas and has one police station to service a population of about 75,000. Lawrence, Kan. has two police stations to serve the University of Kansas and a population of 88,000, but only one of those stations is independent and has a command center. Lincoln, Nebraska, where the University of Neb. is located, has a population of 262,000 and one fully operational station and two substations, but those substations do not have command centers and cannot work independently.

If Columbia goes through with its plan to build more stations, it would have the most fully functional police stations out of these three cities.

But Matthes said that Columbia is different than other cities. 

"Most cities have one place because they can't afford anymore," Matthes said. 

The multi-million dollar plan recommends the project is funded by an existing quarter-cent sales tax. The sales tax went into effect in 2005 and is set to expire in 2015.

In order to fully fund the new stations, the Columbia City Council would have to decide to extend the tax and Columbia residents would have to vote to allow the tax to be spent on the stations.

There is no timetable set for when those votes would be, but it is expected they will be next year.