COLUMBIA — The Columbia Police Department has disbanded its Violent Crimes Task Force, but the idea of creating a similar, permanent unit has not been ruled out.
The task force of law enforcement agencies was created on Nov. 30 in response to a rise in violent crime in Columbia. Officers assigned to the unit returned to their permanent positions on Dec. 28, Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm said in a news release.
Capt. Brad Nelson, investigative commander for the major crimes and narcotics units, said Thursday that the department will evaluate replacement models for the task force if violent crime continues to rise as it did in 2007 — 23 percent from 2006, not including December.
“We’re looking at reassigning officers to a unit for finding violent criminals and making life uncomfortable for them,” Nelson said. “Violent crime suppression at this moment is, absolutely, a priority with the Columbia Police Department.”
The task force was made up of officers from the Columbia Police Department, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, MU Police and the FBI.
Nelson called the task force a temporary solution.
“These officers have to get back to their original assignments,” Nelson said. “This was not intended to be a permanent task force. No one has the personnel to permanently assign these officers to a task force.”
Throughout the month of December, the Violent Crimes Task Force looked for people believed to be violent who were on probation, who were being sought on warrants or who had a number of traffic violations.
During its month of existence, the task force made 42 arrests — primarily for felony offenses — and 107 traffic stops, according to the department.
Based upon these numbers, Nelson said the task force successfully deterred crime.
“They know we are watching them,” he said.
He acknowledged that violent crime did not cease with the creation of the task force. He emphasized the importance of citizen involvement in combating crime.
“Violent crime is not just a police issue,” he said. “It’s a community issue.”