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Police Chief Promises to Do Better After Wrongful Arrest at Smithton Middle School

Columbia Police Department logo on CPD car
Meiying Wu / KBIA

Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones on Friday said the arrest of a Smithton Middle School student in January came as a result of an investigation that "was not thorough."

In a statement following a Missourian report on the results of an internal investigation of the incident, Jones acknowledged that a mother's complaint that her daughter was racially profiled turned up shortcomings. His department is in the process of "ensuring future investigations are complete and the involved employee’s performance improves," the statement said.

Jones said "the disciplinary process has not yet been finalized," but added that it "is designed to modify behavior through a range of administrative actions."

Tony Ash, a school resource officer who covers all six middle schools in the Columbia public school district, arrested two students Jan. 10 after being called to Smithton to help quell a melee that left another student injured. 

Afterward, Kandas Holmes-Barnes, the mother of one of the arrested students, filed a complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, contending that her daughter was targeted because she is black. The 14-year-old, who spent a night in juvenile detention, was released after police received exculpatory evidence. Afterward, she suffered from clinical depression, according to previous Missourian reporting.

To read more, visit our partners at the Columbia Missourian.