Columbia Police Dept. Having Hard Time Filling Vacancies

6 years 1 week 4 days ago Thursday, November 07 2013 Nov 7, 2013 Thursday, November 07, 2013 8:10:00 PM CST November 07, 2013 in News
By: Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor
loading

COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia recently approved funding for the police department to hire three more officers, bringing the total number of officers to 163. But, Chief Ken Burton said the city needs 30 more officers, not three, to meet the needs of the city's growing population.

In the past 10 years, Columbia's population has grown from 88,328 people to 113,225, that's a nearly 23 percent increase. In that same time, the police department's force grew 15 percent from 136 officers to 160.

Burton said the three extra officers will be helpful, if the department can find people to fill those positions. He said the department is having a hard time attracting citizens to don the golden badge. Currently the department has 12 positions to fill, not including the three new positions it will add in 2014.

There are some newcomers on their way to the department though. Right now, there are four CPD recruits going through training at MU's Law Enforcement Training Institute. Heath Green is one of them.

"After seeing everybody in uniform and all of them at the station, it's a great group of people to work with," Green said. "It's a great town, it's a growing town, it's got a lot of potential."

The police department will promote Green and the three other recruits to officers after they graduate. But once they're on the street, the department still needs eight more people in uniform to fill its ranks.

"It's just not as attractive a profession as it was several years ago," Burton said.

To fight that, Burton said his department is recruiting more aggressively.

"We've not really had to recruit in the past. If you look at news releases now, you'll see that there are many departments struggling with hiring officers," he said. "What we have planned is to have our training staff visit the academies within the state and even get outside of the state."

Burton said one problem is many of the applicants the department gets aren't qualified.

"Probably 30 percent to 35 percent are eliminated before they ever get to the interview," he said.

"To be an eligible applicant at CPD, you have to have 60 college credit hours, you have to be able to become post certified through the state of Missouri, you have to pass a written test and pass an oral interview board," said Sergeant Chad Craig.

Craig serves on the Training and Recruiting Unit and said the department is looking to lower those requirements to bring in more recruits.

"Seeing the feasibility of allowing military and prior law enforcement to offset college requirements," he said.

So, military and law enforcement experience could take the place of 30 college credits. The chief said he's on board with the idea.

"We were hesitant to reduce the education requirements, and when we started looking at it if someones been in the military they've been through training that's similar to policing just in their basic training," Burton said.

Director of MU's Law Enforcement Training Institute and former CPD officer, John Worder, agrees.

"I don't know that you need a bachelor's degree to be a great police officer. Police work is a lot about being able to read people, understand their actions, understand your own reactions to what they're doing. You can't learn that in a book," Worden said.

Burton said he thinks the paycheck is another deterrent.

"Somebody coming out of college with a degree can make more money doing something else, that's just the simple reality," he said.

Right now, the starting annual salary for a Columbia officer is $40,784. The city recently increased it from $38,644. The new starting salary is comparable to similar cities in the Midwest. Officers in Fayetteville, Ark., start at $33,306 and Iowa City, Iowa, officers start at $41,828.

"Found that we're competitive within the midwest, we're paying what everybody else is paying," Burton said.

So, the obvious challenge, attract citizens not only to the profession, but the city as well. Still, there are those who don't need to be enticed, like Green.

"If you like helping people, it's more than shooting guns and chasing bad guys down, but helping the community out, make sure it's a safe place," Green said. "Just want to be here and do the best that I can."

The department is also facing a 20-year turnover mark; a lot of officers have retired or will be in the coming months. That's leading to more vacancies and an overall younger force.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - A judge ruled Monday and found the University of Missouri's rule barring guns from its campuses is constitutional.... More >>
28 minutes ago Tuesday, November 19 2019 Nov 19, 2019 Tuesday, November 19, 2019 8:23:00 AM CST November 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Randall Siddens, 34, passed away Monday afternoon from injuries sustained in a car crash on Grindstone Parkway in... More >>
1 hour ago Tuesday, November 19 2019 Nov 19, 2019 Tuesday, November 19, 2019 7:14:00 AM CST November 19, 2019 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two top national security aides who listened to President Donald Trump’s call with Ukraine are preparing to... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, November 19 2019 Nov 19, 2019 Tuesday, November 19, 2019 5:36:46 AM CST November 19, 2019 in News
(CNN) -- UFC fighter Ben Askren, 35, announced his retirement Monday while on the ESPN podcast " Ariel Helwani's MMA... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, November 19 2019 Nov 19, 2019 Tuesday, November 19, 2019 5:28:00 AM CST November 19, 2019 in Sports
NEW YORK (AP) — Derek Jeter is among 18 newcomers on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot along with former... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, November 19 2019 Nov 19, 2019 Tuesday, November 19, 2019 4:52:00 AM CST November 19, 2019 in Sports
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) — Human remains discovered in a Nebraska stock trailer appear to be from one of... More >>
4 hours ago Tuesday, November 19 2019 Nov 19, 2019 Tuesday, November 19, 2019 4:14:25 AM CST November 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri is looking for community input in its search for a new vice chancellor of... More >>
5 hours ago Tuesday, November 19 2019 Nov 19, 2019 Tuesday, November 19, 2019 3:28:00 AM CST November 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Fifteen University of Missouri students got the chance to pitch their business ideas Monday in hopes of receiving... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, November 18 2019 Nov 18, 2019 Monday, November 18, 2019 6:39:00 PM CST November 18, 2019 in News
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota’s new anti-meth campaign featuring people of different ages and races saying “I’m... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, November 18 2019 Nov 18, 2019 Monday, November 18, 2019 6:26:00 PM CST November 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council will approve the Magnolia Falls Park Improvement Project tonight. The park is located... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, November 18 2019 Nov 18, 2019 Monday, November 18, 2019 5:29:00 PM CST November 18, 2019 in News
SWEET SPRINGS – Imagine not having a doctor of any capacity in your town. Bruce and Melissa Eckhoff, along... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, November 18 2019 Nov 18, 2019 Monday, November 18, 2019 4:40:00 PM CST November 18, 2019 in News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Federal authorities have charged 20 people with conspiring to distribute heroin and fentanyl in the... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, November 18 2019 Nov 18, 2019 Monday, November 18, 2019 4:07:00 PM CST November 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A second charge has been filed against Joseph Elledge for child abuse. He has been charged with... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, November 18 2019 Nov 18, 2019 Monday, November 18, 2019 3:43:00 PM CST November 18, 2019 in News
WEBB CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say two people were found shot to death at a dentist’s office in... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, November 18 2019 Nov 18, 2019 Monday, November 18, 2019 2:53:00 PM CST November 18, 2019 in News
MARIES COUNTY - The Gasconade County Sheriff's Office added another "Most Wanted Fugitive" to their list Monday. Shay Vinson,... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, November 18 2019 Nov 18, 2019 Monday, November 18, 2019 2:43:00 PM CST November 18, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Governor Mike Parson announced the launch of the state's "Clear the Air" campaign on Monday, bringing attention... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, November 18 2019 Nov 18, 2019 Monday, November 18, 2019 2:29:00 PM CST November 18, 2019 in News
HALLSVILLE - More than five units of the Boone County Fire Protection District responded to a house fire on Mt.... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, November 18 2019 Nov 18, 2019 Monday, November 18, 2019 2:26:00 PM CST November 18, 2019 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Hundreds of containers — many carrying hazardous materials — have floated into Missouri since flooding in... More >>
20 hours ago Monday, November 18 2019 Nov 18, 2019 Monday, November 18, 2019 12:19:03 PM CST November 18, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 46°
9am 46°
10am 49°
11am 53°
12pm 56°