A committed and consistent public voice for crime prevention and neighborhood safety
COLUMBIA, 3/20/13 (Beat Byte) -- My wife and I have again nominated a public servant in the Columbia/Boone County area to receive the 2013 Ed Robb Award for Public Service, now in its second year.

This year, we've nominated Columbia police officer Tim Thomason, for his long-time commitment to the most important way to reduce crime: PREVENTION. The nomination is excerpted below.
The award's nomination period has been extended to Friday, March 22.  The award will be presented on April 5, 2013 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Columbia.
Please describe why your nominee should be selected as the Dr. Edward H. Robb Boone County Public Servant of the Year. Please limit your nomination to no more than 600 words. Relevant links included.

Columbia desperately needs more crime prevention strategies, and Columbia police officer Tim Thomason is a leader in crime prevention efforts.

The longtime one-man director of the city's Crime Free Housing program and for over a year, a one-man Neighborhood Watch program coordinator, Officer Thomason brings crime prevention strategies to everyday life. He works with homeowners, landlords, tenants, neighborhood associations, and other agencies to prevent crime where it counts the most -- in and around the home.

Columbia's 14-year old Crime Free Housing program began with police officer certifications in 1999 through the International Crime Free Association. Thomason was one of those first officers.

Through Thomason's ongoing efforts, Columbia offers Crime Free programs for single and Multi-Family Housing (apartments and duplexes); Hotels/Motels; and Mobile Homes. Criminals actively committing crimes while living as tenants are a big problem in Columbia that Thomason has spent much of his police career trying to remedy.

The nominator is a local property manager who has participated in the Crime Free Housing program, which includes training for landlords and templates for crime prevention like a crime free lease for rental housing, adopted most notably by Columbia Housing Authority CEO Phil Steinhaus.


Through Thomason's efforts, the Columbia Police Department cites "a positive relationship that has been built between the police department and those who have attended Crime Free training programs. A drastic reduction in calls for service has been seen by many properties who have implemented the Crime Free principles."
Mr. Steinhaus bore out those claims at this year's 3rd Annual Columbia Landlords Against Crime (LAC) summit, speaking about how implementing the Crime Free Housing program has dramatically reduced crime and criminal tenants in HUD Section 8 and housing authority rentals.
Officer Thomason pursues crime prevention when he's not on city time, too. For three years, he's been a keynote speaker at the LAC summit, discussing the city's Crime Free programs and facilitating public involvement. So dedicated is Thomason to the effort, that he brings his young son to the evening summit when he can't find a babysitter.
This year's Robb award would be especially timely for Thomason, who will retire from the police force in little over a year and a half. He leaves the force during uncertain times for his efforts and crime prevention generally.
The city's Neighborhood Watch (NW) program, though operational, is languishing. Long-time NW/police department liaison Mike Hayes retired, leaving Thomason to oversee Neighborhood Watch alone.
The Neighborhood Response Team (NRT) used to have 4-5 city staffers -- building inspectors, police officers, neighborhood service specialists -- walk streets in designated neighborhoods looking for code violations, evidence of criminal behavior, and others ways to reduce crime via the famous "Broken Windows Theory." Now, NRT only has one city staffer.
Crime Free Housing may suffer a similar fate. Mouths were agape at this year's LAC summit when Thomason announced that, after 14 years, he is being reassigned. Where Crime Free Housing will end up Thomason did not know. He received no information about who will replace him -- or if he will be replaced.
As a county leader, Dr. Robb would certainly support Officer Thomason's nomination for the award that bears his name. Boone County has struggled for years with crime and other rental housing problems. County officials have been exploring ways to emulate some of Columbia's successful programs, like rental inspections and crime free housing. Officer Thomason's efforts are referenced at the end of this Boone County guide to landlords and crime.