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?