COLUMBIA — In a step toward “geographic policing,” the Columbia Police Department is reorganizing its beats, the department announced in a news release Monday.
Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton brought up the idea of geographic policing at the City Council retreat earlier this month. Geographic policing focuses officers in areas with greater need, as opposed to the more even distribution of officers under the current beat system, according to previous Missourian reports.
Starting this week, the number of beats will be reduced from 14 to five and be referred to as sectors. Each will encompass two to four beats. For now, the sectors will be defined by combining existing beat boundaries. Those boundaries may change, the release stated.
The beat reorganization is a response to limited number of officers on the Columbia police force, Capt. Steve Monticelli said in the news release.
“We haven’t always had enough officers to staff each beat," he said. "This led to ineffective policing, as we often have had to send officers far out of their respective areas of town to handle calls.”
The new, larger beats will let officers stay in the parts of town to which they are assigned, hopefully getting more efficient use out of officers and resources, the release stated.
In addition to the “geographic policing,” the Police Department has also set up on-line crime reporting to improve convenience.
The police department still advises citizens to call 911 to report occurring crimes and to use CrimeStoppers if they wish to remain anonymous.