The Columbia Police Department’s Beyond the Badge Program is a new initiative by Deputy Chief Melron Kelly to help acclimate newly sworn officers to our community and the various resources available. Additionally, the mission becomes a combined effort among law enforcement and community members. Through community interactions that service projects produce, the law enforcement focus encourages civic responsibilities that embraces a broader perspective and deeper knowledge of those that live, work and visit the City of Columbia. All of these efforts bridge the gap between officers and the communities served.
Case studies have revealed that dedicating a week of public service at schools prone to be at risk, delivering meals to the elderly and reaching out to the homeless resulted in a decrease of 40% in violent crimes and strengthened relationships between police and residents.
Furthermore, our youth are empowered by the positive mentorship. It has resulted in a deterrence of violent criminal activity and has helped to discourage the “bad cop” mentality. Children from neighborhoods in low income areas are especially affected by the positive reinforcement of police officers within their communities.
In many ways, the Beyond the Badge program helps those that are less fortunate by giving back, fostering empathy and self-efficacy, decreasing desensitized feelings and evolving the idea of public service.