JEFFERSON CITY — Governor Mike Parson announced Friday the launch of a $1 million “Missouri Blue Scholarship” fund, in hopes of attracting more people to careers in law enforcement and remedying to agent shortages in Missouri.
The Missouri Blue Scholarship pays $5,000 towards the cost of a Missouri resident attending a law enforcement academy in the state. Scholarships are now available and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
Parson also said this program hopes to attract recruits who may not have the resources to attend training academies without the program’s assistance.
Chief Gary Hill, director of Lincoln University’s law enforcement program in Jefferson City, said he sees the need for things like these scholarships firsthand.
“I think we have more law enforcement officers retiring than law enforcement academy graduates,” Hill said.
Hill said he thinks making Missouri’s academies more economically assessable would greatly benefit applicants.
“If you go to smaller, stand-alone academies, you pay for it out of pocket,” Hill said. “So these scholarships will help working adults who have jobs that they have to work during the day, or who can’t afford the $5,000 or $6,000 award, they can get a scholarship to change their career and get into law enforcement.”
He said there are many people who would like to work in law enforcement, but there are obstacles to being able to attend.
“Either they haven’t gone through the process of hiring an agency, where the agency pays for them to go to the academy, or they don’t live close enough to an agency that does that,” he said. said Hill. “The fact that they can get a $5,000 scholarship to pay for the academy is going to be huge for us.”
Hill said he thinks the grant will especially help small Missouri police departments.
“Being able to apply for these scholarships gives them the flexibility to go through the academy and then go to work wherever they want, except for the agencies that want them to go to their academies,” Hill said. “I think here in Missouri it’s going to be a game-changer, especially for our smaller municipalities and sheriff’s offices.”
The scholarship will be available until all funding is used. Applications for the Missouri Blue Scholarships can be found here.