Columbia police officer turnover rate raise concerns

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COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia human resources payroll records show that in the past year, a total of eight Columbia police officers left. Out of those eight officers, six left in the past four months.

Dale Roberts is the Executive Director of Columbia Police Officer's Association.

Roberts said, "That number of officers in such a short period of time is something of a concern. That's approaching 5-percent of the overall force"

"One of the things that concerns us with this kind of turnover is the rate in which people learn, and so you lose agency experience and expertise," Roberts said, "That's another factor that diminishes the department's ability to respond to the community."

The November 2014 elections asked if property taxes should be raised to pay for more police officers and firefighters. Mayor of Columbia Bob McDavid said, "So for a $17 increase in property tax, the city gets 11 public safety officers."

Voters rejected the option to fund police officers and firefighters through a property tax increase.

KOMU 8 News asked if there were reasons why police officers would leave.

Roberts said, "The primary reasons they give me is the continued reduction of pay and benefits. This city, year after year, has taken away pay and benefits from the officer."

Deputy Chief of Columbia Police, Jill Schlude, said the seven officers left in the 2015 calendar year, and four officers have left so far in 2016.

Schlude also said, "Considering the difficulties law enforcement agencies are experiencing nationwide with recruiting and retaining employees, I would say these numbers are quite good."