On Thursday, August 15 the City of Columbia posted numerous staff photos or "selfies" to various City accounts as part of the national CityHallSelfie Day, a day to honor and show pride in local government service.
The day was also marked by a community tragedy as the remains of a young infant were discovered along a wooded area in northern Columbia. A number of CPD staff and officers were called to the area to assist in the investigation. A death investigation of a baby is one of the most difficult situations our department can face. As Chief Hunter described it, "..these scenes are devastating to our officers."
During the course of the day a Community Relations team member who is assigned to the Columbia Police Department took two selfies of CPD officers in the area of the incident, outside of the scene, and posted them to the CPD Twitter account. The photos depicted officers who were smiling for the photo. The photos were by no means meant to take away from the extremely serious nature of the incident, the loss of life of a young infant or to otherwise be disrespectful.
"We understand that this was not an appropriate situation or location for these types of photos to be taken and we sincerely apologize to our community, on behalf of the unknown infant child, and to the Columbia Police Department,'' Community Relations Director Steven Sapp said. "I take full responsibility for this issue, I am sorry, and I have taken the appropriate coaching actions to ensure we learn from this incident so it is not repeated in the future."
"Our goal and primary message to our community continues to be assisting the Columbia Police Department to be the voice of this baby and determine who he or she is," Sapp said. "We need the community to help CPD be that voice by calling the Columbia Police Department if they have any information which could be helpful."
Please call the Columbia Police Department at 573.874.7423 to leave a message for detectives or CrimeStoppers at 573.875.TIPS to remain anonymous.
Again, we are deeply sorry for the two posts and will continue to work to maintain the high standards we expect of ourselves as a representative of the Columbia Police Department and our community.