On Dec. 31, 2018, Columbia Police Department (CPD) Acting Police Chief Jill Schulde was asked for comment by a local media outlet on certain posts to the personal Twitter account of a police department employee. The posts were from the time period of May 2012 through September 2016.
"Law enforcement must maintain the public's respect and trust when enforcing the law. I met with Acting Chief Schlude to ensure CPD had adequate resources and my support to examine the allegations which surfaced regarding this officer," Interim City Manager John Glascock said.
The officer was placed on paid administrative leave effective Jan. 3, 2019 while a further investigation was conducted by the department to determine if there was any social media activity which violated policy, ordinances or any other applicable laws. The investigation into the social media activity has concluded.
"While the City cannot disclose specific personnel actions towards employees, I have determined that there were violations of department policies concerning social media and off-duty conduct which brought discredit to the department," Schlude said. "I also reviewed the officer's disciplinary history as well as the time period over which the posts were made in reaching my determination as to the appropriate personnel action. The officer has been placed in a capacity which has limited interaction with the public until further notice."
On Jan. 2, Schlude also ordered a full and thorough audit of all complaints handled by the Internal Affairs Unit involving racial profiling and use of force during the time period the officer was in charge of the Unit for any indication of bias in the handling of those complaints. This detailed audit is in progress and will take an extended period of time to complete. In addition, the department is reviewing a sampling of traffic tickets issued by the officer to determine if there is any disparate treatment which would warrant further investigation.
"Columbia Police officers must be held to the highest standards of conduct," Schlude said. "We strongly believe in the Principles of Community adopted by the City Council and know we must take the lead to eliminate any possible bias and discrimination within the department and increase our own individual understanding of these issues through education, training and interaction with others."
All Columbia Police Department command staff from the rank of lieutenant and above will complete the City's already existing Building Inclusive Communities (BIC) training experience within this calendar year led by Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services staff member Kari Utterback, who serves as a FaciliTrainer of the BIC program. She is also a member of the Matters of Social Justice Committee and the 2019 Columbia Values Diversity Award recipient.
"We must take responsibility for our mistakes and actions even though they are in the past and can't be changed. However, we can learn from our mistakes, grow and move forward," Glascock said. "My expectation for all City staff, and especially of those in a leadership position, is to be a part of creating a community that's inclusive of all citizens who have differing perspectives, identities and lived experiences. My hope is that this officer is on that path and will be a shining example of second chances."