Columbia police say serious crime less likely as students move in

Police told KRCG 13 Friday evening they donâ??t expect any serious crime to accompany the return of college students to Columbia.

Sgt. Joe Bernhard said the departmentâ??s primary concern as students return is alcohol-related offenses such as intoxication and open-container violations. He said downtown incidents havenâ??t been quite as frequent since the department changed the downtown unitâ??s schedule to ensure someone is always on duty. Bernhard and another officer worked downtown Friday night as part of the departmentâ??s mounted unit to supplement the downtown unit. Asked whether the presence of large crowds at Friday nightâ??s Reverend Horton Heat concert and at a movie in Flat Branch Park represented any risks, Bernhard said serious crime would most likely be lower because people would be preoccupied at those events.

Sgt. Candy Cornman, the downtown unitâ??s supervisor, said she spread her officers out Friday night and relied more on vehicles than foot or bicycle patrols to ensure a faster response in case anything happened.. She said the mounted unitâ??s presence meant she could move the three officers under her command to other parts of town where they were needed. Cornman said alcohol-related offenses would most likely go up in the coming weekends but added they were unlikely this weekend because students are still settling in.

At least one resident said she had almost no safety concerns Friday night. Jessica Estrada said the only thing she was worried about was the crowdâ??s behavior at the concert on Ninth Street.

â??Just rowdiness. All the college students, hopefully theyâ??re on their best behavior coming back into town,â?? she said.