In Columbia, the mayor’s Task Force on Community Violence met for the fourth time on Thursday to discuss measures for city crime prevention.
A survey to gauge at-risk youth in Columbia was discussed in new business, with the hopes of gaining an understanding into how the task force can implement purposeful and helpful activities to take Columbia youth away from a path toward violent crime.
“We are not looking for scientific validity [with the survey], but cross-checking our own ideas and seeing what we have to work with,” Second Ward Council member Michael Trapp said.
Trapp, who acts as co-chair for the task force, tried to keep matters casual and insisted of referring to committee members on a first name basis.
“These meetings seem messy, but they are necessary so that we can get our footing,” task force member Jerry Taylor said. “We are not going to solve all problems. What we need to do is ground the problems in fact and then begin to convince the people we need the change.”
Much of the meeting time was devoted to developing a “panel of involved persons” to dig into violent crime cases of the past and analyze the backgrounds.
For the panel, task force members would seek out both victims and suspects of violent crime cases and try to “ground all factual evidence,” in the words of task force member Jerry Taylor. In hearing from the panel, members hope to find background information that may shed light onto other alarming factors in the city or other patterns of driving motivation.
“I truly believe we need to bring people in here that have been involved with this,” member Pamela Hardin said. “We need to look eye-to-eye with them and ask, ‘for you, what drove you to do this?’”
Task force members did mention not to bring in people to the panel that were involved in the same crime cases or family members who had lost loved ones, as to not stir up any unresolved feelings.