CPOA Proposes Adding Police Officers Without Raising Taxes

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Officers' Association agrees with Mayor Bob McDavid's proposal to hire more police officers, but the CPOA has some different ideas on where to get the money.

At a meeting Tuesday night, CPOA Executive Director Dale Roberts presented graphs, surveys and city council minutes to a crowd of about 30-40 people.

Roberts said the Columbia Police Department could hire 17 new officers with benefits using the money it currently uses to pay overtime hours.

Roberts also presented minutes from a Columbia City Council meeting in January 2013. In the minutes, the council pledged "the general fund dollars that were freed up if the 9-1-1 tax passed for firefighters and police officers." According to Roberts, that roughly $2 million could fund the hiring of 19 more officers. Combine that 19 with the 17 from earlier, and that equals 36, one more officer than the Mayor proposed hiring.

People at the meeting asked where that money is, but Roberts did not know. City Councilman Ian Thomas, who was at the meeting, said the answer is likely somewhere in the hundreds of pages of the proposed 2014 budget, and the city council would look into it.

When Roberts asked the crowd if they would support proposing an official question to council about the $2 million, nearly everyone in the room raised their hand.