Law Enforcement Support | Opinion


On Wednesday, U.S. Senator from Missouri Roy Blunt said one of the biggest challenges facing law enforcement today is staffing shortages caused by record departures and difficulty recruiting new ones. officers.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Blunt, a Republican and co-chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, said the root cause of the problem was predictable.

“These staffing shortages are unfortunate,” Blunt said. “But they are in many ways predictable of a movement that vilifies law enforcement for, I think, political gain in many cases. Officers have been demoralized by the “defund the police” crusade. They have been discouraged by prosecutors who have released dangerous criminals or even published a list of crimes for which people will not be prosecuted.

Nationally, interest in becoming a police officer is down significantly. It has been like this for several years. But it’s acute right now, especially in places like St. Louis City and County. Hiring anyone in this economy is a challenge, but it’s especially difficult for law enforcement.

Blunt mentioned that the Eastern Missouri Police Academy had about half as many recruits in 2021 as it did in 2020. He said officer departures in the city and county of St. Louis have increased in 2021 and were on track to increase by 60% in each of these departments. compared to an average year.

“In my hometown of Springfield, Missouri, they have 40 vacancies right now that they’re trying to fill across the department,” Blunt said. “As of January, the Columbia, Missouri Police Department had about 20 vacancies in a force that, at its peak size, would number about 187.”

Franklin County Sheriff Steve Pelton said he’s noticing similar trends at Missouri Sheriff’s Training Academy, which operates a branch within his department. He said that in the past, classes had to be limited to 30 students. The academy’s next class at Union will only have 13 students. He said it had been like that for several years.

Pelton said the extra revenue generated by Prop P, a half-cent sales tax that Franklin County voters overwhelmingly passed in 2018, has helped stabilize his department. Much of the revenue was spent on increasing officers’ salaries. He said he doesn’t experience the kind of attrition that other Missouri departments are experiencing.

Still, Pelton acknowledged that the trends are not good. “People don’t get into law enforcement anymore like they used to. But we’re really lucky with the support we get here. It made a difference. he said.

This community support is absolutely essential to the health and well-being of any law enforcement agency.

“When I speak to police chiefs, I hear concerns that a lot of good candidates may decide that law enforcement is not going to be the career they want to have,” Blunt said in his remarks. “When I talk to the sworn officers that I see here every day and see at home, I hear that a lot of them think they just have a job where they face danger, but they don’t don’t get enough support they need to do the job they need to do.

Support for law enforcement. In many ways, community support is the key ingredient to healthy law enforcement.


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