Mayor\'s task force to make recommendations to city council

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COLUMBIA - Conference Room 1A in Columbia City Hall vibrated with lively debate Wednesday as the Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence tried to decide which recommendations to make to city council next week.

Its November 7 deadline to submit any recommendations to council is coming up quickly. The task force has been meeting for 14 months, gathering scientific data on community violence and hearing public input. Its last meeting will be next week, where it will officially decide to submit to city council which recommendations it thinks will help curb violence in the community. The task force will speak on its recommendations at the November 17 council meeting. 

The group functions under four pillars: Enforcement, intervention, reentry, and  prevention. Task Force member David Thomas said the group decided to include in its recommendations a summary of what each pillar stands for in order to help the council make more sense of why each subcommittee is making those recommendations. 

"We realized each group had spent a lot of time making their recommendations, but they were presented in a little bit different format..." Thomas said. "It was a consensus of our group on the purpose for the rationale for our recommendations."

Some of the tentative recommendations will include cultural training for police officers, the "ban the box" program, a new center for low income youths, and finding ways to help schools and law enforcement become less prejudiced and find more trust. 

Task force member Dan Hanneken admitted this is the first 14 months of a conversation that needs to go on for decades, but they have made a good start. 

"This is the start of the conversation so I don't feel responsible to solve the problem of violent crime by the 15th of November next month," he said. "I do think what we owe the community is to show them what we've done to this point, which I think is good work." 

Another member, Lorenzo Lawson, said even though the task force's work is technically done once it submits its recommendations, it will continue to meet unofficially to make sure everything it has recommended is seen through by city council. 

"We have decided on our own that we will meet individually outside of the Mayor's Task Force because it ends," he said. "But we have decided that we will come together at least once a month to see that they are being implemented."

The task force will finalize its recommendations next Wednesday and will hold a public forum on November 12 to present its ideas to the public before the city council meeting.  

The Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence board member Lorenzo Lawson walks into a meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri. The board's meetings on community violence are coming to an end, as the Task Force will be submitting their recommendations to the Columbia City Council by Nov. 7. (KOMU/Kristin Rohlwing)

The Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence questioned whether there are enough safe recreation areas in Columbia for kids during their meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Columbia, Missouri. (KOMU/Kristin Rohlwing)

Pamela Hardin, a board member on the Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence, insists there is a need for urgency on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri. Hardin said she feels pressure is needed in order to reduce violence in the community. (KOMU/Kristin Rohlwing)