Letter: An apology for lack of notification

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 | 4:27 p.m. CDT; updated 8:37 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Since 1976, the city of Columbia has had a SWAT Team that they can be proud of. The 24 officers who volunteer to handle the worst critical incidents that might ever be visited on our city serve with distinction and professionalism. The Crisis Negotiation Team serves with equal distinction.

On July 16, they conducted a joint training exercise at Planned Parenthood involving a hostage situation at a relatively high-threat location. Considerable police resources were brought to the training site for the exercise, generating equally considerable visual impact.

However, we failed to adequately inform the public of our training event, and in particular Al and Debra Harris and the customers of their business, A Cut Above The Rest Hair Salon at 705 North Providence Road. An electronic press release was to have been sent out, but was not, prior to the event.

The heavy police presence there, along with the inadequate prior notification caused substantial hardship and alarm to the Harris’s and their clientele.

On behalf of the city of Columbia, and the Columbia Police Department, we wish to publicly apologize to the Harris family, and to the customers of their business who were present on the evening of July 16 and affected by our activity.

Columbia Police SWAT and CNT are highly trained professionals who are uncompromising in their commitment to the lawful effective management of critical incidents. We let this important notification slip by, and for that we are very sorry and will further commit not to let the citizens of our community to be inconvenienced in this way again.

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