The state Troopers Association says Missouri Highway Patrol troopers’ pay is becoming more competitive with surrounding states, but it wants to see other advances.
With state employee pay hovering near the lowest in the nation for most jobs, some people who come to work for the state stick around long enough to be trained and then move to other states where salaries are sometimes multiple times higher than in Missouri.
Troopers’ Association Executive Director Ken Sears said trooper pay has been steadily increasing.
“We’ve had a lot of cooperation with the governor’s office and the legislators on getting that done. I think right now we’re within one or two steps of having it completed,” said Sears.
The Patrol says the starting salary for a trooper is $3,356 per month while in training; $3,440 per month after six months; and $3,656 per month at two years of service.
A concern for the Troopers Association is the hodgepodge of retirement plans for troopers.
“Active troopers have about five different retirement systems that we’re under, depending on what year you came on,” said Sears. “We’d like to see that more uniform and, of course, get the best benefits we can for retirement.
The Patrol is encouraging interested individuals to apply for its 103rd trooper class. Sears said the number of state troopers isn’t quite what it should be.
“Studies that show what you should have out there, it’s always more than what you actually have,” said Sears. “But, the patrol has been adding more and more troopers to areas.”
Sears said the number of applicants to be troopers has been declining.
“I think it’s the culture,” he said when asked why there would be a decline. “Right after 9/11 for example we saw a huge increase in applications, and then this past couple of years … we’ve seen those numbers start to drop.”
Patrol Captain John Hotz says the application process is competitive.
“It’s a process that takes a period of time, but we do encourage anybody who is qualified, who is interested in a Patrol career, to fill out that application and take part in that process,” said Hotz.