COLUMBIA — The Columbia Police Department's listening tour will continue with a town hall meeting Monday.

Police Chief Ken Burton and City Manager Mike Matthes will meet with Columbia residents to discuss residents' experiences with racial profiling from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday in Conference Room 1A/B of the Daniel Boone City Building.

The town hall will be the next in a series of meetings between police and local activist groups like Race Matters, Friends to discuss implicit bias in policing and community-oriented policing strategies.

Black drivers are stopped in Columbia at more than twice the rate of the rest of the state, according to a 2015 vehicle stops report released by former Attorney General Chris Koster. An Empower Missouri analysis of Columbia police data showed that black drivers were searched more frequently in traffic stops and turned up less contraband.

In a January meeting with local news media, Burton expressed empathy for black residents concerned about racial profiling, according to previous Missourian reporting.

"I learned some things by listening," Burton said, "and now I have a different attitude than I had four or five months ago about where we are with race relations in the city of Columbia."

Burton had previously said in a July 18, 2016, Columbia City Council meeting that he had found no evidence of racial profiling by officers. 

Fourth Ward  Councilman Ian Thomas said in a phone interview Wednesday that he sees Burton's shift as a step in the right direction.

"Personally, I believe that we get a better form of policing if the community is very involved and engaged in what type of policing we have," Thomas said. "I think our police department is moving in that direction, and conversations with the chief lead me to believe that."

Supervising editor is Shane Sanderson.

  • Copy editor for the Missourian; reach me at jadennis@mail.missouri.edu

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