JOPLIN, Mo. – The Joplin Police Department faces challenges keeping current, and hiring new, police officers.

“You know right now is just not a very popular time to be in law enforcement,” says Joplin Police Chief Matt Stewart.  “And so it’s something that from the day I took over I knew that was one of our biggest challenges.” The department’s current turnover rate is 46 percent.

Officer Shelby Howard, President of the Fraternal Order of Police says he believes they are doing all they can to recruit.  They are getting applicants, the training is top notch, but keeping them seems to be the problem and he believes that problem is the pay.

With no payment plan in place, officers are not guaranteed raises for working a certain number of years, and many are lost to local competition.

Officer Shelby Howard asked the Joplin City Council to take a deeper look at wages, benefits and recruitment to see if something can be changed.  He says, “because we’re running so short handed, there is a risk to the public safety out there… not able to fill positions fast enough so running low on man power 

31 of Joplin’s 40 patrol officers have just 1 to 3 years of experience, and respond to a higher rate of calls with 14 positions still needing to be filled.

Stewart says, “there’s some of the finest, in my opinion, in law enforcement around this area. and so I think it’s important that we invest in our folks, we invest in our people, and we make sure to continue to get them what they need to do their job well.”

Joplin City Council is not prepared to make a decision at this time.