More safety resources may be added to Columbia middle schools

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COLUMBIA - Middle schools in Columbia may be getting more safety resources.

In his proposed budget, City Manager Mike Matthes called for the city to spend $25,000 to have off-duty officers provide school resource services on an hourly basis.

Columbia Public Schools' Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said he raised the issue with the board of education at a public meeting late last spring.

"We agree with the city manager with a need to expand our safety and security office to include middle schools," Stiepleman said. "We, like the city manager and the police chief, believe in a community policing model and the power of relationships."

The district had school resource officers at its middle schools several years ago, but the positions were cut due to tight budgets in the city and with the school district, according to Columbia Public Schools' Spokesman Michelle Baumstark. 

In other areas of safety, Matthes proposed freeing up more police officers on the street by filling the positions of public information specialist, crime scene investigator and police trainer with civilians. 

Matthes also recommended the city add four new firefighters to its workforce, which would bring Station 2 to full staffing. 

Brad Frazier, Battalion Chief for the Columbia Fire Department, said the positions are needed.