Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton discussed the local crime rate and answered questions at the Boone County Democratic Muleskinners club meeting Friday.
Chief Burton started off by reminding club members that even though many shootings are reported in Columbia, there are very few people actually shot. Burton attributed this to young gang members with too much time on their hands seeking media attention.
"I think that our unemployment rate has a little bit to do with it. Our economy probably has a little bit to do with it. There are many, many factors that impact the crime rate in the city," Burton said.
Burton said the best way to keep Columbia’s crime rate down is community engagement. He encouraged the audience to report suspicious activity and not to tolerate disruptive behavior in their neighborhoods.
Even though he said he’s committed to reducing the crime rate and local gang activity, Burton reiterated his support for the right of citizens to own a firearm.
"When you pass laws against firearms, the only people that have them are the criminals. When law abiding people have them on their hip, I think that you can create a sense of insecurity in the criminal element," he said.
Burton stressed his focus on prevention and highlighted Columbia’s recent CeaseFire initiative as an important step to stopping youth crime and violence