Columbia Police Dept. Having Hard Time Filling Vacancies

5 years 11 months 6 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
HARSTBURG – Celebrating another fall season with pumpkin carving, hayrides and a straw maze, the 28th annual Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, October 13 2019 Oct 13, 2019 Sunday, October 13, 2019 8:00:00 AM CDT October 13, 2019 in News
TOKYO (AP) — A heavy downpour and strong winds pounded Tokyo and surrounding areas on Saturday as a powerful typhoon... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 8:03:00 PM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
LILBOURN, Mo. (AP) — A small earthquake has been reported in southeastern Missouri. The U.S. Geological Survey says... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 7:41:00 PM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — One person died after a crash in Cooper County Saturday morning. Haven Pennington, 19, drove her Pontiac... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 4:55:00 PM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
There is 5:40 left in the game. North Kansas City's Ronaldo Calderon kicks a field goal to give the... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 12:36:00 PM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY — The dome of the Missouri Capitol building will be lit pink in honor of breast cancer... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 12:08:00 PM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
HARTSBURG - The Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival announced parking will be moved to the river roads near the festival grounds. ... More >>
3 days ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 5:50:44 AM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A Columbia man is behind bars after a search warrant turned up illegal drugs and and a firearm.... More >>
3 days ago Friday, October 11 2019 Oct 11, 2019 Friday, October 11, 2019 10:07:00 PM CDT October 11, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Below are scores from football games around mid-Missouri. Final scores are in bold. ... More >>
3 days ago Friday, October 11 2019 Oct 11, 2019 Friday, October 11, 2019 6:39:00 PM CDT October 11, 2019 in Friday Night Fever
COLUMBIA - Friday Night Fever’s Week 7 Game of the Week features an interesting game between a traveling Rockhurst (3-3)... More >>
3 days ago Friday, October 11 2019 Oct 11, 2019 Friday, October 11, 2019 6:10:00 PM CDT October 11, 2019 in Friday Night Fever
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department is asking for the public’s help locating 28-year-old Mengqi Ji Elledge. Elledge was... More >>
3 days ago Friday, October 11 2019 Oct 11, 2019 Friday, October 11, 2019 4:38:00 PM CDT October 11, 2019 in News
NEW FLORENCE - The Missouri State Highway Patrol awarded Randy Nordman and his widow Julie Nordman with the department's highest... More >>
3 days ago Friday, October 11 2019 Oct 11, 2019 Friday, October 11, 2019 3:52:00 PM CDT October 11, 2019 in News
CALIFORNIA - The Moniteau County Sheriff’s Office and the California Police Department made contact with people in two vehicles that... More >>
3 days ago Friday, October 11 2019 Oct 11, 2019 Friday, October 11, 2019 1:59:00 PM CDT October 11, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - University of Missouri Chancellor, Alexander Cartwright, gave the 2019 State of the University Address on Friday, speaking about... More >>
3 days ago Friday, October 11 2019 Oct 11, 2019 Friday, October 11, 2019 1:34:00 PM CDT October 11, 2019 in Continuous News
JEFFERSON CITY - Ten men who have only known recent life in prison are now a step closer to success... More >>
3 days ago Friday, October 11 2019 Oct 11, 2019 Friday, October 11, 2019 12:46:00 PM CDT October 11, 2019 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - Police arrested two men in connection with a shots fired case on Dove Drive early Thursday. The... More >>
3 days ago Friday, October 11 2019 Oct 11, 2019 Friday, October 11, 2019 11:59:00 AM CDT October 11, 2019 in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Democratic Missouri gubernatorial challenger Nicole Galloway has outraised incumbent Republican Gov. Mike Parson in recent... More >>
3 days ago Friday, October 11 2019 Oct 11, 2019 Friday, October 11, 2019 11:26:00 AM CDT October 11, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A house fire broke out Friday morning on Mohawk Court, but no one was hurt. Firefighters arrived... More >>
3 days ago Friday, October 11 2019 Oct 11, 2019 Friday, October 11, 2019 10:43:00 AM CDT October 11, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 58°
8am 57°
9am 60°
10am 62°
11am 64°