The Citizens Police Review Board discussed internal affairs policy changes for citizen complaints and the Columbia Police Department’s new educational standards at a Wednesday night meeting.
Columbia police changed how they handle complaints and internal investigations in early October.
The new policy splits complaints about police misconduct into two types based on the severity of the allegations. Minor misconduct includes foul language or traffic violations, while major allegations involve excessive force, criminal conduct or arrest without probable cause, among other things.
Sgt. Brian Tate of the internal affairs unit said the policy change put what the police had already been doing into writing.
“We just memorialized what we were already really doing,” Tate said.
The changes were meant to bring the police department into compliance with standards set by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Tate said. The commission provides accreditation to public safety organizations that abide by their standards.
Before the change, investigations of minor complaints would often go undocumented, Tate said.
The board also discussed the recent changes to the police department’s education requirements. Before, prospective officers needed at least 60 college credits; now, they only need a high school diploma, according to previous Missourian reporting.
Board chair Darryl Smith said he was a little surprised by the changes.
“You don’t build a quality organization with high standards by lowering the standard people bring in,” he said.
Sgt. Tate said he believed the department’s intent was to expand the pool of quality applicants.
“We’re probably not going to take that person that’s 21 years old and hasn’t shown a history of making an effort to better himself,” he said.
Smith said they could discuss the issue further when the board meets with Chief Ken Burton in December. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13.