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Missouri Department of Agriculture director Chris Chinn (left) and Governor Mike Parson applaud comments from Columbia Mayor Barbara Buffaloe at a special session event at Columbia's Clary-Shy park (August 25, 2022 file photo courtesy of the governor's Flickr page)

Columbia’s mayor hopeful about proposed new office of Violence Prevention

Columbia Mayor Barbara Buffaloe takes a selfie with Missouri Governor Mike Parson at the I-70 bill-signing ceremony in MACC’s Columbia parking on August 15, 2023 (file photo courtesy of the governor’s Flickr page)

Columbia’s mayor says she’s done talking about community violence and wants to see action.

Mayor Barbara Buffaloe is proposing the creation of a new Office of Violence Prevention, and she outlined her plan during Monday night’s city council meeting.

Mayor Buffaloe tells our news partner ABC-17 that numerous cities have similar offices, including Kansas City and Philadelphia. Funding will be an issue, because the city council just approved Columbia’s new $533-million budget in September. There would have to be an amendment to the budget.

Columbia’s city council last night also voted to approve a resolution stating council intent to utilize $25-million in federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA) dollars, and directed staff to negotiate agreements for council consideration. The Columbia Police Officers Association (CPOA) is critical of Columbia’s city council on ARPA, noting that of the $2-million allocated for “community violence,” zero is allocated to law enforcement.

The Columbia Police Officers Association (CPOA) is also disappointed because the council has not allocated any ARPA dollars as premium/hazard pay for law enforcement officers and other essential workers who were unable to work from home during the COVID pandemic. The CPOA says these city employees risked their safety and health for everyone in Columbia, adding that the hazard incentive would have demonstrated to the community recognizes their ongoing sacrifice.

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