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Columbia violent crime task force discusses criminal risk factors

Derek Bridges

The Mayor’s task force convened Wednesday evening to discuss a new data based approach plan to further solve the violent crime issue in Columbia.

Task force member Dan Hanneken presented a list of risk factors called Criminogenic Need. This list addressed all of the risk factors that contribute to the likelihood of someone committing a violent crime. From his research, Hanneken explained a list of top eight risk factors.

“The list allows us to target those resources for the people who are at the highest risk to commit these crimes so we can get the highest paying for our buck,” Hanneken said.

Hanneken has a lot of experience with the criminal justice system so he was able to collect the research to make the Criminogenic Need list. Task members want to test how many of these risk factors that Hanneken has pointed out, are present situations in Columbia.

Another task board member Steve Calloway says this is a backwards research project. He thinks it is important to test these factors to make sure this is what is happening in Columbia. If the board finds out these factors are not specific to our community then they need to find out what is actually occurring.

The panel discussed other factors that may need to be added to the list.

Lack of education, unemployment, literacy, and faith were all brought up in discussion for a possibility add on to the list. Many members felt strongly about adding faith as a ninth category to the list.

Pamela Hardin said that faith would play a big role because most of the African American community is connected to church.

To measure the degree of faith she says members need to ask if the person is connected to church through a parent and what age did they distance themselves from church.

“My mother said as long as I lived in the home I had to go to church, but in some homes when you get to a certain age you can make that choice,” Hardin said.

The panel added faith to the list because members think faith affects the path someone takes when choosing to commit a crime.

Task force members were split into for different subgroups to break down the data further inside the community.  The groups include gathering information from people directly involved in crime, news media, police records, and other organizations to further solve the violent crime issue.

“This is a very long and complex process, but I like that the group is positive about what we think we can accomplish and willing to try,” Calloway said.

Calloway also says that they will check in after a couple of months at a work session to see what the groups have gathered and might have to try another approach if little progress is made.

At the next meeting on Nov. 13, The Columbia Public Schools and the Children’s Services Board are expected to attend the meeting and give presentations.