Our Columbia: Safe and Just Plan

This is a series of bold and far-reaching public safety proposals that not only expand Columbia’s commitment to public safety support and accountability, but also create new efforts that prioritize intervention over incarceration.

Invest in new home buying assistance for first responders in the city

Data shows us that our communities are safer when our law enforcement agencies live in our communities. On top of the City’s employee loan program, we will provide additional resources so that we encourage our first responders to live in our community.

Raise CPD and CFD salaries to at least the state average to help address recruitment and retention while building new community-based partnerships

In order to keep and retain the investment of training these talented men and women, we must competitively pay our first responders.

Protecting our first responders  by providing annual psychological evaluations, just as we do for physical evaluations, for all police officers and firefighters

We owe it to our first responders to ensure they receive all of the resources and care they deserve. Our first responders are exposed to some of the most challenging situations society can offer. Understandably, long after the situation is resolved our first responders often deal with the emotional trauma. We must ensure they receive the care they deserve.

Creation of a policy that provides parameters for the City to publicly release body camera video within 48 hours of an incident.

We owe our citizens a thorough, unrelenting commitment to transparency. For that reason, we must provide a policy that clearly establishes parameters that allow body camera footage to be released within 48 hours of an incident.

Hire mental health professionals and develop taskforce within CPD

As we reimagine policing, there will be members of our law enforcement agencies that do not wear a badge or carry a gun. We must ensure our department has the right personnel to better de-escalate crisis and everyday situations when they occur.

Eliminate prosecution of and incarceration for simple possession of marijuana in favor of intervention

A simple possession charge can often be the first foray into the legal system. By prioritizing intervention instead of incarceration, we are providing individuals with another opportunity.

Combat black market firearms and gun violence by requiring that any lost or stolen firearms be reported to police immediately

In an effort to curb gun violence, we must be vigilant in the reporting of lost or stolen guns. Disproportionately, these guns are then repeatedly utilized to commit crimes. As Mayor, we will mandate the reporting of lost and stolen guns so that we can track and ensure these guns that subsequently victimize our communities.

Reduce recidivism by implementing a public/private “Second Chance Agenda” that invests in re-entry, job training and expungement

We must provide hope and opportunity. Once a debt to society has been paid, we must ensure our citizens that are re-entering our community have the resources to be successful.

Address the immediate staffing needs within our public safety agencies and require annual review of public safety staffing needs

Every day we ask a lot of our first responders. When our public safety agencies are not fully staffed a burden is unfairly shifted to those we have in the ranks. We must be committed to fully staffing our public safety agencies.

More effectively respond to Columbia’s mental health needs by partnering with the Richland County and the SC Department of Mental Health on the Crisis Intervention Team

Partnerships are essential. RCSD’s recent collaboration with the SC Department of Mental Health, which pairs a deputy  with a clinician to arrive on scene together, represents an opportunity for partnership we must take advantage of.