Missouri Councilman Apologizes for Statements Perceived as Anti-Police

A City Councilman in Columbia, MO, has apologized for comments he made about police that drew criticism from that city's police union.

A City Councilman in Columbia (MO) has apologized for comments he made about police that drew criticism from that city's police union.

The local police union asked Ian Thomas to apologize to police officers "and provide proof of a claim he made" on Monday night as the city council was discussing a report on community-oriented policing, according to KMIZ-TV.

During the City Council meeting, Thomas reportedly said, "There are serious violations occurring to the people of color, there have been for generations. There are bruised feelings on the discussion of those issues on the side of police officers."

Columbia Police Officers' Association Director Dale Roberts criticized those comments in a written statement.

"At a time when morale within the Police Department is widely recognized as being dangerously low and turnover is dangerously high, we should expect more from our elected representatives than to levy wild accusations against their officers," Roberts wrote.

Councilman Thomas said in a written statement, "In response to your recent complaint about my statement during Monday's City Council meeting, I apologize to all Columbia Police Department officers for giving the impression that I was criticizing them, which was not my intention at all."

Thomas continued, "In fact, I was speaking in general terms, but I recognize my error in using careless language, and I wish to take this opportunity to emphasize my support for the courageous and difficult work undertaken by officers every day," Thomas said.

"This is a complicated time as we work to improve local police-community relations in the shadow of a national conversation about police use of force in communities of color," Thomas said in his statement.

"Police departments across the country have been under attack in recent years from anti-racism activists who point to documented violations, and it is understandable that there are bruised feelings on the part of police officers," Thomas said. "However, I believe that we need to move past these challenges and look to the future, in order to achieve our vision of safe communities and well-respected public safety officers," Thomas said.

In the past three years, the Columbia Police Department has received a total 30 citizen complaints of excessive force, according to WGFX-TV. None of those allegations were substantiated or resulted in disciplinary action, according to WGFX.

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