In 2009, the Columbia Police Department introduced geographic policing. Officers were assigned to specific areas of town, or “beats.” Officers worked to get to know the neighbors of their beats and understand what problems or concerns the residents had. Shortly after this model was introduced, CPD expanded the approach and assigned two officers to Douglass Park, a known “hotspot” for calls for service and/or criminal activity in the City of Columbia. These two officers worked diligently to build relationships with residents in the area which proved valuable as calls for service to the area soon decreased.
In May 2015, CPD expanded the areas of town the Douglass Park Unit patrolled. The name of the unit was changed to Community Outreach Unit (COU) to properly reflect the efforts of the officers working in the unit. The COU was assigned to different areas of town with the mission to open lines of communication with the community while rebuilding community partnerships.
By October 2015, City Council selected three neighborhoods to focus resources on as part of the 2015 Strategic Plan. The decision was made to expand the COU from two officers to six officers with a full-time sergeant overseeing operations.
- Listen and act upon the cares and concerns of the community.
- Establish a network of community contacts.
- Create an environment in which community members are comfortable to communicate with the police.
- Identify problem areas, people, and situations within the community.
- Identify areas in which police meet the needs of these communities and areas in which police do not meet the needs of these communities.
- Responsibly enforce the law in these communities to build trust in those who call upon us.