Today's Question: Will geographic policing lead to fewer fights downtown?

Thursday, May 14, 2009 | 11:49 a.m. CDT

At the Special Business District board member's meeting Tuesday afternoon, Police Chief Kenneth Burton announced a new Downtown Police Team. It will consist of six officers working on foot, bike and horse to help control downtown-specific problems such as graffiti, panhandling and violence at bars.

Burton was announced as police chief on March 30. He had served as police chief for six years in Haltom City, Texas. At his swearing in, he expressed a desire to get "down to the community level," and support an approach called "geographic policing." It is a a statistics-based technique that identifies high-crime areas within the community. Burton has used the technology since 1997.

The new police team for downtown would be a test group to see how well the teams can be applied citywide. "We want to see what kind of response we get and see if it's something we can apply to the entire city. Downtown seemed like an obvious place to start," Burton said.

Capt. Stephen Monticelli and Sgt. Chris Kelley hand-picked the six-member team. They described the importance of a highly visible police team. "You're going to see these guys downtown all the time," Monticelli said.

"I think if we're going in (bars) and they see us going through there more often, we're going to see less fights," Kelley said.

The team's first priority is to get Friday and Saturday nights under control. The news was welcomed by Special Business District board chairwoman Mary Wilkerson. "I'm almost dumbfounded, I'm so excited," she said.

Are you looking forward to the results of Police Chief Kenneth Burton's new strategies? Do you think the test group will be successful in solving some crime problems downtown?

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Ray Shapiro May 15, 2009 | 1:55 a.m.

I'm confused.
There's a map on the following site which indicates that there's all kinds of crime going on all around Columbia.
Crime is no longer concentrated in one or two specific areas or zones. Each Ward now has its "fair share."
("The team's first priority is to get Friday and Saturday nights under control...Downtown seemed like an obvious place to start," Burton said.)
While I support my local police, why is this the obvious place to focus on when Mizzou graduates its students this weekend and the bars are pretty sparse during the summer break. I would think that some kind of arrangement with the MU Police department, for the summer, might be helpful so that CPD can start patrolling around residential neighborhoods. I would also like to think that while a police presence is nice to have downtown, any chairwoman who expresses that she is dumbfounded and excited seems to be rewarded for failure to get her business members to chip in and hire some private security personnel.
(Isn't Police Headquarters like practically in "The District" already and MU campus just 4 blocks South?)
I would rather have seen CPD express publicly more concern of the increased wave of violent crime throughout Columbia and at least promote citizen Neighborhood Watch programs.
CPD has been doing a great job catching these criminals after the fact, but I predict one heck of a summer.
Now I'm confused and concerned.

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