St. Louis city prosecutor Kim Gardner said her city has about 120 police officer openings. During a state Senate committee hearing this week, Missouri Police Chiefs Association President Sean Fagan says the state’s police departments are facing major problems with hiring officers and keeping them. He says the problem emerged after Ferguson protests in 2014.
“A lot of people call it the Ferguson effect,” he says. “There are just people that do not want to be police officers nowadays.”
During the hearing Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith says his department is not dealing with shortages like some of the other law enforcement agencies are.
Fagan, Rolla’s police chief, says his greatest challenge in hiring officers is lower pay. He’s short five officers.
“There were once what we can call our cops program, which were programs provided by both the federal government and by the state to help us hire additional officers by having partial or if not all of their salaries covered through these grants,” Fagan says.
He also points to a strong economy.
“Why would you want to put yourself through the liability and the problems that are nowadays associated with police officers,” Fagan says. “Police officers are very much under a microscope right now.”
The law enforcement group includes more than 640 Missouri police chiefs.
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