Columbia Police Department to Buy SWAT Headsets

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department plans to spend more than $16,000 on new headsets for its SWAT team. The money comes from forfeiture funds--money the department earns from confiscated items.

But the Citizens Police Review Board is disappointed with the decision to spend the money on the headsets. The board requested some of the money be put toward the police mediation fund. The mediation fund is used to resolve complaints against the department.

"It would be helpful to citizens who file they could see if it can be resolved at that point," Citizens Police Review Board chairman James Martin said.

Martin said the board understands the need for new headsets and wants to keep officers safe, but the mediation fund is severely underfunded.

"I just wanted enough to get us into the mediation program," Martin said.

In its petition to the city council, the police department said the current headsets were made in 1997 and are outdated. It also said because the headsets are so old, many officers choose not to use them, posing a safety risk.

Martin said he wants officers to be safe as well, but hoped the department could have spared some extra money for the mediation fund. He said he wasn't sure how much money it would take to get the mediation fund running well.