Police Union Says Joplin Police Department Has Safety Liability

JOPLIN, MO — A proposed Joplin budget for the next fiscal year includes a two percent raise for city employees; but police officers and corporals aren’t included. Joplin Fraternal Order of Police says it’s well past time to devote more resources towards the JPD.

“Serving with pride” is the Joplin Police Department’s motto. But a letter from Joplin’s Fraternal Order of Police says there are sacrifices behind that service with pride.

“They have a lot of pension issues. A lot of attrition. Morale issues going on there,” says William Davis, vice president of the Southwest Missouri Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #27.

Davis is also a Joplin Police sergeant.

A letter from the police union to city officials says, “Our inability to retain experienced officers is a liability to the Joplin Police Department, to the City of Joplin, and to the public safety of our community.”

“This week, we have another officer who’s leaving and anticipate one or two more maybe on the way out the door, voluntarily, here soon,” says Davis.

We asked Davis if these officers were leaving because of pay.

“Absolutely,” says Davis.

Davis says of JPD’s 40 patrol officers, 14 have less than three years experience, and 17 have less than one year of experience. JPD’s turnover rate since the fiscal year of 2014 2015 has been 46 percent.

“The retention seems a little worrisome,” says Four State resident Tina Broes. “Especially when you’re only retaining less than 60 percent.”

A City-endorsed financial committee, made up of Joplin residents, looked at nine other cities in the Midwest, similar in population and median household income. That committee wrote in a report, “Our police officers are making more incident calls than average, protecting and covering more metropolitan area people than the average city, and covering a larger area than most cities in the study. We believe the city manager and council should thoroughly analyze and look at police officer recruitment and wages.”

“While you’re in the academy, it’s (salary) somewhere between $30,000. By the time you hit the street, you’re around $31,000. Some people are looking at state assistance. They do qualify,” says Davis.

Davis says often times, only five officers patrol the entire City between two and seven in the morning.

“A lot of people who I work with work late,” says Broes, who also says it would be nice to know more police resources were available.

Davis says pay negotiations between the City and Fraternal Order of Police have been happening since the beginning of this year.

Joplin City Manager Sam Anselm says he plans on discussing this topic with City Council the early part of next month. He says until then, it’s too premature for an interview with us about this story.

Click here for the letter from the police union to the City, which also mentions only five patrol officers during night hours. Click here for documents the City-endorsed financial committee presented to city officials.