Joplin Police Department trying to combat declining police recruits

New program aimed at hiring from other departments
Joplin Police Department trying to combat declining police recruits

The Joplin Police Department announcing today some new hires, some of them, coming with experience. But, bringing in new officers has become a challenge for many departments nationwide, including JPD and it’s not just because of pay.

The Joplin Police Department launched a new “lateral hires” program in September. The goal, to bring in experienced officers from other departments. Captain Trevor Duncan says “So we’re just now starting to see the benefits of the September testing where were getting those lateral hires started in our in-house training.”

JPD has two lateral hires starting now, and four more, including one former Joplin officer, starting in the coming days. But, they’ve been lucky. According to the bureau of justice statistics, the number of sworn officers on the job has dropped by 23,000 nationwide since 2013. Captain Duncan says there’s another factor contributing to the decline in officers “I think one of the issues that we’re facing that is not just our department, it’s really the profession of police work, there’s a lot of people that don’t want to be police officers now.”
Webb City Chief of Police Donald Melton sent us a statement about the decline in available officers saying “…we have noticed fewer available candidates and several seemingly qualified candidates that have not been able to pass our background investigation.”

Duncan says he’s also heard other reasons people no longer want to be police officers “We here a lot of different things on why people don’t want to be police officers, and it’s anything from ‘I don’t want to deal with the stuff you guys deal with’ to ‘I don’t like how the media portrays you guys, I don’t want to be a part of that’ or ‘I don’t know why you guys do what you do for the money you do it for.'”

JPD also just hired two MSSU Law Enforcement Academy grads, and five more that the department put through the academy. MSSU says they’re not experiencing a decline in enrollment for their criminal justice program, in fact, the admissions department says they’ve seen steady numbers since 2016 averaging 215-235 students per year. Duncan says he hopes numbers like that continue to help slow the decline in qualified police applicants. Captain Duncan also tells us with their new lateral hire program, they can now offer salaries that take into account an applicant’s years of experience.