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      Columbia Police Want More Officers

      Columbia taxpayers paid nearly 35,000 hours of overtime last year to the Columbia Police Department.

      Members of the Columbia Police Officers Association want 38 more officers on the street.

      Organization leaders said the additional officers would help reduce crime in their city.

      The CPOA represents about 80% of the police department. Executive Director Dale Roberts told reporters Columbia needs more officers on the street to get crime under control. A Columbia city survey shows that public safety is the number one concern of citizens. Fifteen years ago, Columbia had 69 police officers in the patrol division. Today, Columbia has 68 officers on the front lines.

      Roberts said, ??What we need are more feet on the street. I know there are important duties to be performed in the office, but we believe what we need is more feet on the street.??

      Roberts said Columbia taxpayers paid nearly 35,000 hours of overtime last year to the Columbia Police Department. That equals the pay of about 25 additional police officers.

      Roberts said, ??We are not asking for a tax increase. We are not asking to take money from any other department. We are asking for money that already exists.??

      Police Chief Ken Burton is asking for 38 additional officers when the next city budget is passed by October 1. Roberts said that would help make up for the lack of staffing over the past 20 or 30 years.

      The Division of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms recently sent additional ATF agents to Columbia to help with the recent growth in violent crimes. ATF statistics show Columbia has the most violent crimes per capita of any city in the state.

      City council members have the final vote on Police Chief Burton??s request for 38 additional officers.