Interactive map highlights 2018 crime in Columbia

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COLUMBIA - Here are the facts on violent crime in Columbia.

For the year of 2017, there were 610 incidents of violent crime according to the Columbia Police Department's uniform crime reporting (UCR) statistics. That number rose from 517 incidents in 2016. This sudden rise was last seen between 2014 and 2015, where violent crimes rose from 410 to 600, according to the UCR data.

Rates for forcible rape and homicides are the highest they've been in the past 10 years, according to the data, while robbery and aggravated assault are at a low.

Whether Columbia will experience another rise or fall in violent crime for 2018 is yet to be determined, but the voice of the Columbia community echoes concern; citizens feel that crime is continuously becoming worse.

Many citizens place blame in the Columbia Police Department, asking for greater police presence in the community.

One Columbia resident who lives near Claudell Lane told KOMU 8 News she was so afraid of crime in her neighborhood that she often chooses to stay indoors. She said she wondered why police weren't around to help the situation. She did not want her name included in this story because she was afraid.

Columbia Police Department (CPD) Public Information Officer Bryana Larimer says it's obvious what problems are causing difficulties for police.

"I think it's no hidden message that our department is extremely understaffed," Larimer said. "Ultimately, I think that there will always be the need, and it would always be beneficial to have more officers, to be able to have more officers on the street and respond to the high call volume that we have."

Larimer also said they are doing the best they can with the resources they have, and that increased funding would immensely benefit the police force. But she also said concerning police presence in Columbia, it's ultimately up to the community what they want the department to do.

“Realistically we serve our community," Larimer said. "And right now what we've seen is, with the resources that we currently have, there's frustrations with response times, and rightfully so."

Larimer told KOMU 8 News that most low-priority calls in Columbia can take up to a few hours to respond to.

"It's not because we want to do a disservice to our citizens," she said. "Realistically we just don't have enough officers to get them to those places in a timely fashion... and I think you're going to see the problem increase as the population continues to increase."

Jeff Rackers, a Columbia citizen and resident of Thornbrook, said he agrees.

Thornbrook is a community which just last year experienced a string of crimes concerning mail packages stolen straight from their doorsteps. Luckily, community efforts to stop the criminal paid off, with limited help from police.

But Rackers said he doesn’t think the police department should be held entirely responsible for increased crime in Columbia.

“I don't think the police force has kept pace with population growth of this town. Minor crimes are overlooked, and not by their fault," Rackers said. "Our city council, our mayor, somebody needs to take action on this. This is probably the biggest black eye in Columbia right now."

Rackers, and according to him many other Columbia citizens, believe it's the city council's responsibility to ensure the police department is well enough funded to function properly.

"People are tired of it," he said. "Is it going to cost something? Yes, it's going to cost something. Is it worth it? There are a lot of things we've spent money on that could have gone to our police force."

To give the Columbia community a resource on crime and how to react to it, KOMU 8 News made this interactive crime map. In it you'll find recent data on crime reports since January 1, 2018. The map is filtered into different crime reports in Columbia, including assaults, shots heard, larceny, and many others.

It also includes detailed outlines of the wards of Columbia, as well as the relevant contact information for each council-member responsible for that ward. There is also information on the police department, contact information for the mayor, and multiple relevant links to the City of Columbia website. Click on the enlarge button on the upper right of the map to search your address and see where crime is near you.

UPDATE: The crime map has been updated to more accurately reflect current data on crime in Columbia.