Community policing update

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COLUMBIA - Members of the local group Race Matters, Friends used Monday's council meeting to voice their concerns over the progress of the city's community policing initiative.

When the resolution was passed in February, it said key players in the community would be involved in the creation of the program - an essential part of the community-oriented aspect.

Now Race Matters, Friends is questioning the city's commitment to that resolution.

"We're concerned that [the city] is not taking into account the data and the research that we've done - that is already available - to really make a solid plan," treasurer Lynn Maloney said.

Just three months into the city's efforts to produce a community-oriented policing program, Maloney said the group plans to come up with a program proposal of its own by the end of June.

This comes after Maloney said the police officer tasked with creating the city's community policing proposal, Sgt. Robert Fox, called his April meeting with Race Matters a "waste of time" because they did not have any recommendations.

Sgt. Fox has previously called community policing valuable; he was unable to be reached for comment before this story aired.

Maloney spoke out at Monday's council meeting to remind them of the work they have done over the past few years. She also requested the city utilize research from the mayor's task force on community violence from 2014.

Now the community-oriented collaborative effort the city aimed for in February is facing questions.

"Because [Sgt. Fox] wasn't able to answer many of our questions, and kept turning around saying he was there to get more input from us, [Race Matters, Friends] didn't get a lot of confidence that he had a great plan," Maloney said. "He seemed to be pretty unfamiliar with community-oriented policing, so that's why we think we need to model for the city by creating our own plan."

In a statement, City Councilman Ian Thomas, who led the city's efforts to adopt the community policing resolution, said he's been mostly uninvolved with the process, but expects more in the future.

"I understand there will be World Cafe forums in each ward in June," Thomas said.