Missouri lawmaker hopes to boost police recruitment with new bill

Missouri News

MISSOURI — Hiring new police officers has been increasingly tough around the country – and in Missouri – and one Show-Me-State lawmaker wants to do something to help.

The plan aims to help people at the very beginning of a law enforcement career – even before they get their very first badge.

“We did go through a spell, like two summers ago where we had four or five,” said Carthage police Lt. Jeff Pinnell.

That’s the number of ongoing openings for police officers at the Carthage Police Department. The number has shrunk in 2021, but it’s an issue for just about all police departments in the area.

“The academy is not getting any cheaper. And then there’s also costs like uniform costs,” said Pinnell.

State Rep. Lane Roberts-R wants to help. He’s sponsoring a bill in the upcoming legislative session focusing of boosting student enrollment in law enforcement academies.

“It can cost them round numbers about $6,000. they’ll invest four to six months of their life to depending on where they go to the day or the night Academy,” said Roberts.

House Bill 1703 would reimburse the cost of training – with some conditions.

“If you become employed with a police agency – every year four consecutive years – you can apply for 25% reimbursement. At the end of four years, you would have been 100% reimbursed. So you can either pay for it or you could finance it,” said Roberts.

Roberts believes the promise of financial assistance could encourage more future officers to apply.

“[A]nd hopefully that will help some of those minorities or people with family responsibilities, who would be good candidates but simply either can’t afford it or unwilling to put their family financial disadvantage.”

Roberts spent more than 40 years in law enforcement, so these hiring challenges are a big concern. He’ll be promoting this bill when the 2022 legislative session starts on Jan. 5.

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