Today's Question: City Council candidates discuss crime prevention ideas

Thursday, March 19, 2009 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The City Council candidates running for seats to represent Second and Sixth wards discussed crime prevention at a public forum Monday.

Though violent crimes decreased by 36 percent in 2008, property crimes rose 18.9 percent, according to the Columbia Police Department's 2008 Crime Statistics report. The candidates attribute this to the struggling economy.

Sixth Ward candidate Rod Robison wants to prevent crime by improving the city's economy and helping troubled kids discover a healthy alternative to crime.

“It’s possibly more of the disadvantaged or at-risk kids that need to see some hope,” Robison said. “We have to get those kids to see an alternative. If they know they can go out and make their own money, they won’t go out to steal yours.”

Second Ward candidate Jason Thornhill supported the adoption of a law that would prevent landlords from renting to repeat criminal offenders.

“If they can’t live here, they probably won’t stay here,” Thornhill said. “We need to try to figure out how to keep these folks from infiltrating neighborhoods and bringing them down.”

His opponent, Allan Sharrock, supported increasing neighborhood watch training.

Sixth Ward incumbent Barbara Hoppe described her role working on the growth management plan for the city. Hoppe said the plan would help fix the city's problems by creating a more concentrated and planned city that would be easier to manage and police.

The Second Ward candidates also stated they did not want to decrease the police budget, with Sharrock asking for an increase to build a second police station.

Hoppe cited her support of the Police Department in the past and her goal to continue making recommendations for the most efficient force possible.

“It’s not just the number of police you have, but how you use them,” Hoppe said. “They restructured, so now they always have an experienced officer with an inexperienced officer. There were a whole series of recommendations that have been made in response to that.”

What do you think of the crime prevention ideas the City Council candidates have presented? What do you think needs to be done to decrease crime in Columbia?

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Ray Shapiro March 22, 2009 | 1:19 a.m.

I suggest that a curfew for children 12 years and younger should be on the books, in a town such as ours, and reasonably enforced. A different approach should be used for minors who are older than 12.
It is important, for the safety of our neighbors, that we try to prevent crimes before they happen. I would recommend that we encourage 12-15 year olds to participate in less "juvenile delinquent" behaviors by having more "parental supervised" youth activities at the Armory, ARC and after school centers. More youth and family friendly activities need to be organized by Parks and Rec and by our churches. Parents need to encourage their youngsters to attend and the programs and activities need to be age and culturally appealing. MU and CPS could also partner to open up "drop-in" centers, aka a safe place to hang out. The school's need to develop meaningful Parent-Teacher-Youth Associations from K through High School.
Columbia Courts need to incorporate a Family Court mentality into their Juvenile Court system where parental responsibility and accountability is developed, nurtured and expected. Parents of juvenile delinquents should be required to go to parenting classes. Their children should also be required to attend. Many of them will be breeding, soon enough.
The Family Court structure in St. Louis looks real good, on paper. I would suggest that this town use it as a blueprint.
Our courts also need to stop treating 13-20 year old gang members with kid gloves. Many of the younger kids are being recruited into these gangs by older members.
Recruiting youths into a gang should be considered a severe crime vis a vis corruption of a minor.
Start punishing the gang recruiters and we might put another dent into their little organizations.
Responsible residents need to take action against Columbia's growing drug problems, gun problems, gang activities, juvenile delinquency and decaying family dynamics. Sometimes, all we can do is support the politicians we think come closest to our own ideals.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 22, 2009 | 4:10 a.m.

ray all of that would be like actually fixing the problems which alot in this community do not seem to want to do.

(Report Comment)

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