Columbia police have stepped up downtown patrols, chief says

nophillips@thestate.comSeptember 3, 2013 

TRACY GLANTZ — tglantz@thestate.com Buy Photo

— As Columbia tries yet again to solve its homeless crisis, Interim Columbia Police Chief Ruben Santiago said he already has changed how his department patrols downtown.

At any given time, seven to 12 police officers are walking the downtown district, Santiago said.

The department has not pulled officers from other neighborhoods. Instead, cops who work with special policing teams have been shifted to the area, Santiago said.

The interim chief said he does not believe he needs more officers to handle the city’s size.

Santiago made a presentation at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, then council members began discussing a plan for operating the city’s emergency homeless shelter beyond the winter months. Council grilled the Rev. Jimmy Jones about Christ Central Ministries’ pitch for offering more services and keeping the facility open around the clock.

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