By Brad Tregnago of KSSZ

The Columbia City Council has approved accepting a federal grant to help pay for four new police officers. Columbia will pay a progressively bigger share of the costs for the cops until the grant expires in 2019. Chief Ken Burton says the positions will focus on community policing, and fighting violent crime.

Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton

“They’ve got buzzwords, obviously. Community policing is one of those. So is deterrence to violence. So we included all those things and told them that’s how we would use the officers, and I think that was instrumental in us getting them,” says Burton.

City Manager Mike Matthes says the council will have to find the money to pay for the officers in future years.

“There are a couple of scenarios we have to do that, and we can do this without a ballot. So exactly how we fund it, though, is not decided,” says Matthes.

The city also budgeted four new officer positions starting this year. Chief Burton says CPD has hired several officers the last few weeks, but still has about ten vacancies right now.

Burton says his department also promised in its grant application to show a preference to military veterans when hiring people for the new positions.