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Interim Police Chief stresses importance of community involvement at annual Neighborhood Watch public meeting

The Citizens Police Review Board plan to submit suggestions for changes to police pl
Meiying Wu/Meiying Wu / KBIA
The Citizens Police Review Board plan to submit suggestions for changes to police policies at their upcoming Oct. 11 meeting. Members don't expect any changes until a new police chief is named.

The Columbia Neighborhood Watch held its annual “State of the Watch” presentation last night.

Columbia Neighborhood Watch is a volunteer-run program that trains local residents in community crime-prevention and reduction efforts.

Herb Watchinski Jr, the president of Neighborhood Watch, said the organization is greeting September with stabilized finances and leadership, new business accreditations and grant opportunities.

The nonprofit held seven training sessions in fiscal year 2022 – adding 111 new residents to its roster of over 3,500. In the next year, the program hopes to double its number of trainees.

Matt Stephens, the Columbia Interim Police Chief, delivered remarks at the event.

“Even though they’re not police-paid resources, they’re vital in policing crime, solving crime, and communicating issues, problems and such amongst themselves and the police department as a whole,” Stephens said.

He also encouraged residents to participate in the selection process of the city’s new police chief – stressing the importance of community involvement in the decision.

Stephens added that residents can expect an announcement of the new police chief from the Columbia City Manager sometime in November.

“It’s your voices that need to be heard in that process and they can’t be if you’re not there so please show up and be vocal about what you’re looking for,” Stephens said.

Stephens said he’d like to see skilled communicators and individuals willing to deeply engage with diverse Columbia populations in the final candidates for the position.

A community forum introducing the candidates for Columbia Police Chief to the community is scheduled for October 18th.

For a transcript of the radio story, click here.

Anna Colletto is a junior at the University of Missouri reporting on Health and Higher Education in Fall 2023.
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