Police Chief Stresses the Importance of Community Policing

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Police Chief Kenneth Burton discussed the importance of community policing Wednesday night at the Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence meeting.

Burton said the combination of city growth and a lack of officers and resources has put strain on the Columbia Police Department. He said he wanted members of the task force to see that this problem isn't just one for the police. 

"This is a community effort, it's not just police," Burton said. "It's nobody's fault how we got here, we have the opportunity to work together as a community to solve this problem."

Burton presented that community policing can help reduce fear, establish trust with police, and keep an open exchange of information. He said he also took this opportunity before the task force to inform them about what is going on with the Columbia Police Department.

"It was an opportunity for me that I seized and I think they were receptive to it and appreciative," Burton said.

Task force members and Burton discussed ideas to help the community and the police department work together. A few ideas he shared at the meeting include: adding more youth programs to keep kids out of trouble, increasing the number of civilian job opportunities within the police department, and adjusting education requirements for incoming officers.

"The total solution involves everybody and I hope that's what we started," Burton said.

Burton said Wednesday he hopes people understand that it is important for everyone in the community to work together.