Police Review Board continues conversation on discrimination

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COLUMBIA – The Citizens Police Review Board will discuss recent concerns on racial discrimination at a meeting Wednesday night at the City of Columbia Building.

Race Matters, Friends detailed concerns of systematic racism at the city council meeting Monday night. The concerns stemmed from a report which found black citizens were being searched and arrested at nearly twice the state average rate in stops involving the Columbia Police Department. City Council addressed the issue at Monday’s meeting, and the Citizens Police Review Board will further the conversation at their meeting Wednesday afternoon.

“We are trying to figure out what the numbers mean. Do we have the numbers we need and are we looking at them properly,” Citizens Police Review Board Member Darryl Smith said. “Is it the amount of stops in a certain geographic region? Is it because of selective enforcement? We just don’t know. And that is part of the issue. We don’t know what we don’t know.”

The board meets once a month, focusing on concerns that encompass different issues in the community. Slow response times from the Columbia Police Department have also been a topic of concern in the public and in police review board meetings. Smith said the topic has been discussed, but different aspects of the issue are still being evaluated.

“It is typically a question of man power,” Smith added. “Without the man power, response times will typically be longer.”

The Citizens Police Review Board will meet at 6 p.m. Davis stressed that the doors are always open to the public.

“With our meetings, the public is welcome to bring anything to us,” Davis said. “I want people to bring their issues and their concerns and whatever the public wants to talk about. It is open.”