SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Springfield Police Department (SPD) has seen more applicants apply in the last couple of months.

“We had 53 people sign up to take our agility and written test last Friday,” Major Stacey Parton said. “We had 45 candidates arrive. After the written test was over we had 40 of those persons from that process move forward in the physical agility test. We had 3 people not pass the written portion. “4 of those 43 moved into interviews. So we’re still looking at a good number of candidates. This is the highest number of candidates many of us can remember testing at one time in probably the last 10 or 15 years.”

An increase in numbers could be because of new programs. SPD started it’s 2021 through 2024 recruitment plan July 1.

“We’ve raised up minimum pay,” Parton said. “We’ve changed up our tattoo policy which was in place for many years. So we’re trying to look at any way we can increase our pool of applicants but we want to maintain a high level of professionalism.”

The department also changed it’s education requirements. Applicants need at least 30 college credits. Originally, applicants needed 60 credits. Even if officers come in with 30 college credits, they will enter the academy with more.

“Once they finish our training program they can actually go to many of these colleges and universities here in the Springfield area and let them know they finished the academy and actually get credit for those hours,” Parton said.

There were 50 sworn officer vacancies in the summer. Now, it’s down to 41 vacancies.

“We have 2 lateral candidates,” Parton said. “One from the NY police department and one from Alaska. We are certainly happy to have them. They’re currently in the field training program right now hopefully soon to be released to be solo officers.”

In addition to those two officers, SPD has done some early hiring.

“We hire persons in an early hire process when we get the ability to do that,” Parton said. “I believe we have six people right now that are early hires. Those are persons that we have gone through the selection process for them to become police officers but we’re just not holding an academy right now.”

SPD is keeping them busy.

“They’re learning how to take police reports, they’re learning how to the department works, they’re interacting with people and gives them experience but it also employs them and that way their job seeking is over,”  Parton said.

SPD is still looking to hire for none-sworn positions.

“We currently have 13 vacancies in our records department,” Parton said. “That is a good way for somebody especially if they’re not old enough to join the police academy but they want to get into the career field to see what it’s all about, just like those recruits are learning, this is a good way for them to come into the system.”

There will be a police academy in January and September. SPD’s goal is to have 20 recruits in the January academy. It’s hopeful it will exceed that number.