Missouri Senator introduces legislation to boost PD funding

JOPLIN, Mo. – Amid calls to reallocate police funding across the country, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley files a bill that would increase funding.

Senator Josh Hawley made an impassioned speech to the Senate last week calling for support of his bill, known as the ‘David Dorn Back the Blue Act’. “What our officers need is not less funding, what they need is not defunding, what they need is not disrespect, what they need is support.”

The bill is named for retired St. Louis Police Captain David Dorn, who was killed in June while defending his neighborhood during looting in the city. The bill would allocate $15 billion in funding to allow departments to increase salaries and potentially hire more officers. Captain Will Davis with the Joplin Police Department says “This bill, if it allows for the addition of police officers and would fund those positions, that would huge for the department, being able to go out and make sure we’re addressing even more specific needs of the community.”

Joplin is no stranger to compensation and staff shortage issues, which makes recruiting officers difficult. “When you look at the workload versus compensation, that’s one of the things that people look at when trying to decide to come work for the Joplin Police Department and if they can handle less calls and get paid a higher rate at another agency, they may go and seek that opportunity.”

However, Dola Flake with the Joplin for Justice group has a different perspective on how the funding could help. “I truly believe that if we were able to bring in social workers to get solution focused and really to the core of these issues related to poverty and addiction that create criminal activity often times, that on the back end, we would actually see a reduced need for the high work load that officers have right now.”

Flake says it’s important to remember they’re pro change, not anti-police. “So I think one thing that we need to acknowledge is that the changes that we’re asking for are at a systemic level, it has nothing to do with any one individual officer, so I absolutely support my officers who do good work, however, the system as a whole needs change and I should be able to say that without being perceived as someone who doesn’t support the police.”

Senator Hawley says the bill excludes any cities that recently cut officer salaries.