COLUMBIA — Members of the Columbia City Council have a proposal drafted by the Heart of Missouri United Way and New Chapter Coaching for facilitating a conversation with the public about community policing.
The proposal was delivered May 25 to Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas, Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp, former Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser and City Manager Mike Matthes.
Thomas said in an email that they are negotiating with the two organizations to iron out details and prepare a final proposal for the full council to consider within a few weeks. The estimated cost of the plan as pitched is $69,290, or $130 per hour.
The first draft of the proposal outlines a four-step plan to be carried out between now and Nov. 30. The goals are based on Thomas's February resolution calling for a public discussion about the city's need for community-oriented policing.
United Way and New Chapter Coaching define a plan for a 1 1/2-day public forum using a "world café" method to cultivate conversations. The forum will involve several sessions and would be open to the public with an estimated 150 to 200 participants, Thomas said.
The forum would also include speakers addressing issues facing the city. Before the forum, representatives of stakeholder groups from several organizations and neighborhoods would convene to discuss and agree upon the topics and goals of the discussion.
The proposal lists residents from high- and low-crime neighborhoods, representatives of Columbia Public Schools, MU, the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, social service providers, the Columbia Police Officers' Association and the Columbia police chief and other officers.
New Chapter Coaching is led by Carolyn Sullivan, who also has been helping the city implement a strategic plan for addressing socioeconomic disparities in three specific neighborhoods.
The council at its May 19 retreat revisited the idea of proposing a property tax increase to fund more police officers. Voters rejected a ballot measure in 2014 that called for a 30-cent increase that would have paid for 40 more police officers and 15 firefighters.
Matthes was the one who brought the proposal before the council. No specific amount was discussed, but Matthes emphasized the need for a property tax increase as opposed to an increase in sales tax, given the erosion of sales tax in the age of internet shopping.
Matthes also addressed lagging sales tax revenue during his State of the City Address on Wednesday, citing statistics that reflect the enormous growth in sales of online vendors such as Amazon.com.
Before putting another property tax increase on the ballot — perhaps in April 2018 — the council hopes this forum will educate and inform the public about the community's need for more police officers while also giving the public a chance to voice what they value in public safety officials.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.