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Columbia Police, MU School Of Law To Host Community Forum About Chauvin Trial

COLUMBIA - Columbia Police Department announced it will host a forum called “Empowering People” with the MU School of Law to discuss the State v. Derek Chauvin trial and policing practices.

Michael Hester, a CPD Lieutenant officer, said that after personally marching and communicating with protestors last year after the tragic death of George Floyd, he hopes this forum lets the community know that CPD wants to be a part of the conversation.

“This discussion is important because Derek Chauvin violated the public trust in law enforcement,” Hester said. “He violated the standards and the trust of the community. And his actions harmed people in all walks of life all over America. And so our community is hurting as well. And we just want to be present and part of the healing and let people know what goes on in Columbia, Missouri.”

Ben Trachtenberg, associate dean of Academic Affairs and professor at MU School of Law, has helped create the forum alongside CPD officers. He said having a panel of MU law professors can help forum participants understand the specific charges Minnesota has brought against David Chauvin.

“For example, in Missouri, we don't have a third-degree murder statute,” Trachtenberg said. “And in Minnesota, one of the charges against Derek Chauvin is third-degree murder. So it might be useful for people to hear Professor Uphoff talk about what that crime is in the state of Minnesota and what the government needs to prove to get a conviction.”

Rodney Uphoff is an MU law professor emeritus who will join the forum’s panel. He said his experience of having been a public defender, as well as having taught criminal procedure for many years, will help bring a defense lawyer’s perspective to the forum’s discussion.

“Questions about proper policing and how society should deal with policing when it's used improperly – I think those are issues that ought to resonate with people,” Uphoff said. “And I think this is an opportunity for them to listen to different perspectives on these issues, and this gives them an opportunity to express them as well.”

The “Empowering People” forum is limited to 200 people and will take place on Thursday, April 22 at Jesse Hall Auditorium. To learn more about this event and how to RSVP, visit como.gov/police.