Quail Drive residents live cautiously, want greater police presence

Thursday, December 13, 2012 | 9:13 p.m. CST; updated 4:26 p.m. CST, Friday, November 22, 2013
Located just north of the junction of U.S. 63 and Interstate 70, Quail Drive has been a hot spot of violent activity, with 26 shots-fired incidents reported since 2009, including eight in 2012. Residents in the area have noticed an increase in police presence since initial gun crime reports in 2008.

COLUMBIA — People who live on Quail Drive go about their day-to-day routines with caution.

"I mind my own business, I stay to myself, and I don't get cozy with any of the neighbors," a resident who asked to remain unnamed said.

Go house-to-house to ask Quail Drive's residents how they feel about the safety of their neighborhood, and doors don't open readily to strangers. When they do, the greeting often is: "Who are you, and why are you here?"

After a 2008 shooting in which one man was killed and another was seriously wounded, several Quail Drive residents said they wanted more police in the area. Since the beginning of 2009, there have been 26 shots-fired incidents reported on Quail Drive, according to Columbia Police. Eight of those 26 occurred in the last year.

Columbia police recently launched the Columbia Ceasefire Initiative in response to a string of shootings in the city, including two incidents on Quail Drive last month. The initiative will focus on seeking information about violent people in the area. Lt. Krista Shouse-Jones, who is assigned to the North-Sector Patrol, said the initiative has concentrated patrols that focus on troubled locations such as Quail Drive.

One resident said she and her female roommates never venture down the street beyond where their house is. She — like all the Quail Drive residents who agreed to be interviewed for this story — asked that her name be withheld because she fears for her safety.

"Once you go downhill, it all goes downhill," she said, alluding to how crime gets worse at the bottom of the street. "We never go down there. That's where the cops always go."

That sentiment was expressed by other residents on the street.

Shouse-Jones said landlords with properties on Quail Drive have reached out to  Columbia police and have worked with officers of both the Police Department and the Office of Neighborhood Services to better screen tenants and improve properties.

While residents of Quail Drive had different perspectives on how they view police presence in the area as of late, everyone who gave an opinion agreed that a greater police presence helps them feel safer.

"The more they're seen out here, the more it stays quiet," one person said.

Some residents said they see patrol cars about once a day, while some reported seeing them four to five times a day. 

Even though many said they've noticed police patrolling more in recent years, some people on Quail Drive are calling for more attention.

One resident said the police usually come to the area right after an incident but aren't consistent on the long term.

"I see them a lot during the day," another said. "But is there a police presence at night? No."

Shouse-Jones said there are always officers assigned to the area, and how often they go through a neighborhood depends on the day. She also noted that police cars are noticed more during the day because that's when people are active.

One resident called for more than police presence to help make the street safer. "It could use some lampposts, and it could use a neighborhood watch," he said. 

Quail Drive is not currently a trained neighborhood watch block, said Officer Tim Thomason, the Columbia Police Department adviser to the Columbia Neighborhood Watch.

"Citizens have to request to be in the neighborhood watch, and Quail Drive has not," Thomason said.

Meanwhile, residents are feeling the stigma of living on Quail Drive.

"People always say, 'Why would you live on Quail Drive?'" one resident said. "Better lock your doors and windows.'"

Taylor Weatherby contributed to this article.

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.

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